Breaking NewsFor the first time in history, Japan’s fisheries agency has publicly announced that they will most likely halt the Antarctic whaling program. Due to Sea Shepherd’s continuous harassment, a shrinking demand for whale meat, and its overbearing cost to hunt whales, the whaling fleet may not embark on its annual five month trip this November.
So Called “Scientific Research”
Japan fisheries have been exploiting a loophole under the International Whaling Commission for over 20 years, which allows the killing of whales under scientific research purposes. This loophole permits Japan to kill hundreds of whales each year for scientific research. Once a whale is killed, data is collected on the animal’s remains such as its age and diet. The once content creatures of the blue are then packaged and sold in markets. Japan argues that not only is this research needed for managing whale populations, but that they rely on whale meat for a majority of their protein.
Whale Meat Becoming a Burden
The generation that rapidly consumed whale meat is no more. Consumption of whale and dolphin meat has declined as the concern of mercury levels have grown. Because of the growing fear of mercury poisoning, whale meat is now being piled up in freezers across Japan. The number is an astonishing estimate of 5,670 tons. To no surprise, the government is desperately trying to pawn off the whale meat, and offering the mercury filled meat to elementary school lunch programs for a reduced price.
Whale Hunting Debt and Bad Blood
The controversial whaling program costs Japan a whopping 40 million dollars each year. Not only is their whale industry deficit growing, many countries are alongside the United States with protesting the annual whale slaughter. Australia and New Zealand have also been leading the anti-whaling campaign by spending their government resources on documenting Japan’s whaling activities. In 2010, Australia even initiated a case against Japan with the International Court of Justice in regard to Japan’s whaling activities.
So what does this mean for the whale slaughtering in the North Pacific? Will the infamous dolphin killing end in Taiji, that was so horrifically documented this past year in The Cove? Only time will tell. Though, if the Japan Antarctic whaling program does end for good it will be a great stride towards the end of whale and dolphin hunting worldwide. Lastly, I will give a big kudos to the Sea Shepherd crew who have been risking their lives for animals who aren’t able to fight for themselves, long before international stardom and a hit TV series. Keep up the great work Sea Shepherd!
Check out Bob Barker’s video on this years victory.
About the Author
Kate Galloway is currently finishing up her Bachelors of Science in Marine biology at UC Santa Cruz. Her deep love for the ocean started on the California beaches of San Diego as a child growing up. Her love for the warm waters of the West coast grew into an enthusiasm for conserving the ocean, and every thing that resides within it. She has a wide variety of experience in communicating ocean science through teaching, research, and now writing. She hopes to one day work in marine conservation policy, write environmental journalism pieces, and travel the worlds oceans.
Just to let everyone know, this article was from 2011 and, unfortunately it was only a rumour. Japan did go continue to hunt whales last year, as according to Sea Sheppard’s Paul Watson, the country used $30 million dollars of their Tsunami relief fund to subsidize the annual hunt.
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