The Japanese whaling fleet has returned from Antarctic waters having achieved their goal of hunting 333 minke whales.
“Since a majority of both the males and females taken were mature, this indicates that the species is reproducing healthily,” said the nation’s fisheries department in a statement.
Japan intends to take nearly 4,000 whales over the next 12 years as part of its research program and has repeatedly said it aims to resume commercial whaling, reports Reuters.
Environmental organization Sea Shepherd has issued the following statement regarding its attempts to prevent the Japanese fleet from fulfilling the quota:
“Despite our efforts to once again disrupt the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean, the Japanese whaling fleeting has reached their self-allocated quota of killing 333 minke whales.
“Today Sea Shepherd mourns the loss of these whales. We have called an emergency meeting of the Global Board of Directors in Amsterdam this weekend to review our whale defense strategy in the Southern Ocean, and will release a more detailed statement on Monday morning
“We were aware of the challenges from the outset of the campaign – the doubling of the whaling area and the reduced quota that would be easier to reach – but we did our best despite the odds because it was the right thing to do. And – as usual – we did it alone. It is a reminder that the needless slaughter of marine life will continue unless governments stop making hollow statements of disapproval and start taking action to hold Japan accountable.”
Former Australia Greens leader Bob Brown said Japanese whaling fleet's gloating at its killing of 333 defenseless minke whales, 30 percent of which had not even reached maturity, shames humanity.
"The Bob Brown Foundation totally backs Sea Shepherd's ongoing defense of the whales against these international criminals who bloody the Antarctic waters with their cruel grenade-tipped harpoons. Australia's Turnbull government, by doing nothing despite the Federal Court injunction against the Japanese whale-killers, is complicit in the crime."
The Sea Shepherd captains and crews, from eight countries, who tracked the Japanese criminals and showed an appalled world evidence of this year's slaughter, are the heroes and upholders of human dignity in a world which would otherwise be oblivious of the Japanese outrage, said Brown. “Sea Shepherd's huge public backing in Australia will continue to grow and the whaling, already reduced by two-thirds due to Sea Shepherd's campaign, will be ended altogether in coming years."
Japan’s “scientific research” program used to justify the killing of whales was rejected by the International Court of Justice in a 2014 decision.
The court ruled by 12 votes to four against Japan, and ordered it to revoke scientific permits issued under the program. At the time, the Japanese government told United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that the court's jurisdiction “does not apply to ... any dispute arising out of, concerning, or relating to research on, or conservation, management or exploitation of, living resources of the sea.”
In 2015, the Australian Federal Court fined the Japanese whalers A$1 million for hunting within an Australian whale sanctuary, however the fine remains unpaid.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.