Japan's 'science program' has taken the lives of 333 Minke whales from the Antarctic ocean. The final ships from their five-vessel research fleet returned toShimonoseki port on 31 March, according to Japan's fisheries agency, who said that it had “achieved its plan.”
Source: ReutersDespite a moratorium introduced by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1982, which called for a ban on commercial whaling of all whale species, to which Japan is a signatory, theirresearch continues to cost hundreds of animals their lives every year.However, this hunt remains legal as Japan exploits a loophole in the moratorium.Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling states that “any Contracting Government may grant to any of its nationals a special permit authorizing that national to kill, take, and treat whales for purposes of scientific research.”
The Japanese Fisheries Agency cites the scientific purposes of whaling its as deciphering: the age and gender populations and stomach contents of these animals.Therefore, practice is fully legal and allowed to continue.However, these research activities have long since elicited waves of international controversy from activists who accuse the program of acting as a ruse to hide Japan's continuation of commercial whaling.The meat that their fleets gather during this hunt goes on to be sold in supermarkets, despite the fact that whale meat is becoming less and less popular.
Source: The Japan Times
The country has been a consumer of whale meat dating from the immediate post-WWIIperiod, in which it became a vital source of cheap protein.Therefore, certain people argue that whaling is a part of Japanese culture, and as most species, including the minke whale, are not endangered, their activities should go on unhindered.
However, Kitty Block, the executive vice-president of Humane Society International, an animal protection charity based in Washington, describes her opposition to this practice toThe Guardian:
Each year that Japan persists with its discredited scientific whaling is another year where these wonderful animals are needlessly sacrificed.
In 2014, after pressure from activists,The International Court of Justice ruled that Japan must cease its lethal research methods. Therefore their 2015 program was composed solely of non-lethal techniques such as taking skinsamples and performing head counts.
Source: Glenn Lockitch/Sea Shepherd
Nonetheless, Japan resumed their killing of these creatures the following year but dramatically reduced their quota by about 60%.Block continues to discredit the scientific nature of this hunt which she describes as “an obscene cruelty in the name of science that must end.”To help put an end to this cruel practice you can make a donation to Whale and Dolphin Conservation to help them continue their fight against Japanese whaling, here.
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