A report sent to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has revealed that Japanese ‘scientists’ caught and killed a total of 333 minke whales in just 12 weeks during their Antarctic Summer field survey.
The data, which was collected between November 2017 and March 2018, was sent by the country’s New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean (NEWREP-A), shows that 152 male minke whales were killed during the hunt and 181 females. It also shows that 122 of the females were pregnant and 114 of the whales were juveniles.
Even though the whale meat is sold to be eaten, in 2014 after a UN ruling against their research, Japan published a new plan stating that their research is for scientific purposes. They said that through collecting and analysing the animals it would help them to understand Antarctica’s ecosystem and show that there is a healthy whale population and it can continue to be sustainably bunted. Since the new plan Japan also cut down their catch quota by two-thirds to around 330 whales each year.
Humans have hunted whales since prehistoric times and in Japan it is part of their culture, however expeditions to the Antarctic only began after World War 2 when whales became a source of meat. Although the meat is still sold today it is becoming less popular and far less businesses are selling it.
Japan is now the only country to continue whaling in Antarctica but many others continue to catch local whales for subsistence of indigenous peoples, including Norway, Iceland and the Faroes. In 1986 the IWC banned commercial whaling, but since the ban over 50,000 whales have been killed due to loopholes that have allowed countries to continue this cruel tradition.
ORCA continue to work with the IWC and believe that NGO’s, governments and the public need to maintain opposition to this barbaric trade so these counties will be forced to put an end to their commercial whaling.
Photo credit: Eve Englefield