The Whalewatch coalition today condemns the news that Japan’s whaling fleet has returned from a whale sanctuary in the Antarctic Ocean, having killed 440 minke whales for ‘research’, and another scientific whaling programme is commencing in the North Pacific coastal waters off Japan.
According to recent reports, Japan plans to double the number of whales that it continues to kill each year in the name of research, adding endangered species such as humpback and fin whales to its list of targets being killed in defiance of an international ban on whaling that has been in force since 1986.
Whalewatch, a coalition of more than 140 non-governmental organisations from over 55 countries, is calling for an end to all commercial and ‘scientific’ whaling, as there is no reliably humane way to kill a whale at sea. Speaking on behalf of Whalewatch, Andy Ottaway from Campaign Whale, said:
“We are appalled that Japan is planning a dramatic escalation in the inherently cruel and unnecessary slaughter of whales. Whaling for ‘research’ is nothing more than commercial whaling in disguise. The international community should condemn Japan for continuing this barbaric practice, which is unacceptable in the modern world and should not be tolerated.”
A comprehensive report, ‘Troubled Waters’, released by Whalewatch last year, provides hard scientific evidence into the welfare implications of modern whaling activities.
It supports what has long been believed, that these highly evolved mammals experience extreme trauma and suffering in the hunt and kill process.
Prolonged suffering means that whales take over two minutes to die after a direct strike by a harpoon and in many cases have been reported as still being alive more than one hour after the harpoon has struck.
Although commercial whaling has been banned since 1986, over 25,000 whales have been killed since this ban came into force and more than 1,400 whales are expected to die this year alone.
Japan unilaterally allocates itself an unofficial quota of whales each year, which are killed under the guise of ‘research’.
The whale meat is then sold commercially. Japan currently kills over 700 whales a year (440 minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean; 160 minke whales, 50 Brydes whales, 100 sei whales and 10 sperm whales in the North Pacific) and has killed over 7,600 whales for ‘research’ since 1987, during which time it has repeatedly ignored over 20 resolutions by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) calling on it to stop.
In June, the IWC will be holding its annual meeting in Ulsan, South Korea, where pro-whaling countries may have a voting majority for the first time since whaling was banned in 1986.
Whalewatch will be lobbying to keep the ban on whaling in place and prevent any compromise deal that could bring back commercial whaling.