Minke whales were killed in protected waters in the Ross Sea in early 2018
Japan's scientific whaling programme, a legal loophole that allows for the slaughter of hundreds of whales each year, has seen more than fifty minke whales killed in the Ross Sea by three whaling vessels.
The news comes after WWF analysed a scientific committee paper from this week's International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Brazil, which Japan is chairing. It comes at a critical time for whaling, as a Japanese proposal to restart commercial whaling is voted on later this week.
Despite the Ross Sea marine protected area (MPA) being given wide protections from fishing and exploitation, the organisation that agreed the MPA does not have jurisdiction over whaling, which has allowed Japan to flout the protections given to other species in this vital habitat.
Speaking to the Guardian, Rod Downie, polar chief advisor at WWF, said: "Thousands of other species are protected in this part of the Ross Sea, so it is shocking and absurd that minke whales are not. The banner of so called "scientific whaling" needs to stop once and for all."
Minke whales are a species of baleen species found across the world, including in large numbers in UK & European waters. ORCA teams regularly record the species across many of our survey routes.