The Japanese government announced a new Southern Ocean whaling program proposal on Tuesday. The plan represents a two-thirds cut on previous Antarctic quotas in a move it hopes will convince international opponents it is conducting genuine scientific research.
Earlier this year, the International Court of Justice ruled against allowing the previous whaling program exemption as scientific research as defined in the 1986 moratorium on whaling. The whale meat obtained on previous expeditions was sold to consumers in Japan, allegedly only as a byproduct of the research. However, the court was not convinced of the program’s scientific validity.
As a result, Japan cancelled its 2014-15 Antarctic hunt, but the new plan submitted to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its scientific committee is intended for the 2015-16 season. Japan has set a new annual target of 333 minke whales, down from around 900 under the previous program in a program planned to last 12 years. The Japanese government claims this catch rate is required to provide data on the age of the population in order to set catch limits that ensure sustainability.
"We will explain the new plan sincerely so as to gain understanding from each country," the minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Koya Nishikawa, told media.
Japan killed 251 minke whales in the Antarctic in the 2013-14 season and 103 the previous year, far below its target because of the actions of the Sea Shepherd organization. Tokyo also conducts hunts in the Northwest Pacific (132 whales were killed in 2013) and off the Japanese coast (92 whales were caught in 2013).
Japan has carried out what it calls scientific whaling in the Antarctic Ocean since 1987.