The Japanese whaling fleet has returned home with a gruesome catch: 333 minke whales: 103 males and 230 females – 90.2% of whom were pregnant.
It’s a sad day for science and nature. Despite failing to get approval from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), despite a UN ruling against them, despite an international ban and despite its whaling being condemned by the International Court of Justice and almost anybody on this planet, Japan’s fleet has done it again. They’ve slaughtered hundreds of whales, masquerading their operations as “science.”
As the World Wildlife Fund explains, not only do we have techniques to study whales without murdering them, but those techniques are cheaper, faster and more effective. In reality, whales are killed for their meat. According to Reuters, the whale meat is being sold in stores, despite the fact that few people actually want to eat whale meat.
In December 2015, the UK and other European countries signed on to a protest, strongly condemning Japan´s plans, but that’s simply not enough. We need concrete steps to prevent a massacre like this from ever happening again.
“Japan has time and time again shown that it is willing to disregard science, international law, and international cooperation when it comes to its whaling operations. But what the whales need now is more than just diplomatic protest. We are calling on the European Union and the international community to consider appropriate legal and economic sanctions against a country that is clearly exempting itself from international agreements, whenever it suits its agenda”, says Astrid Fuchs, Programme lead with WDC.
Without international reaction there is little that can be done, but we can all help. Japan wants to sign a new trade deal with the EU, and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation started a petition to encourage the EU to not sign the deal with Japan until they stop whaling. You can sign it here.
Minke whales are relatively abundant, but their total number remains unknown, which makes the Japanese killings even more dangerous. A 2007 analysis of whale meat DNA in South Korean found that the country caught twice as many whales than they reported, raising further concerns about Minke whales. The IUCN assessment suggests that there has been a 60% reduction in the population between the 1978–91 period and the 1991–2004 period, but this is still being investigated.