Japan will go ahead with whaling in the Antarctic this year under heightened security to fend off activists who have vowed to disrupt the annual hunt, the country’s fisheries minister said Tuesday.
The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, but Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to hunt whales despite worldwide opposition.
Under a provision of the ban, Japan is permitted to kill around 1,000 whales in the Southern Ocean every year for “scientific research.”
Sea Shepherds Forced A Temporary Suspension Of Whale Hunt
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a U.S.-based environmental group, has rejected that argument, saying the whale meat is sold in Japan and served in restaurants. And Japan’s whale hunts have become increasingly tense because of clashes with the anti-whaling group.
In February 2010, I reported here that Japan had temporarily suspended its annual Antarctic whale hunt because of actions by Sea Shepherd following its ship.
Care2′s Sharon Seltzer reported that The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society called the 2010 whaling season a “Spectacular Success” as Japan’s fleet returned home with just over half as many whales as they had set out to catch. The whalers blamed the low kill on 31 days of harassment by anti-whaling activists.
Smallest Catch In Years For Japanese Whalers
The Japanese whaling fleet set out for the waters of Antarctica with a permit issued by the Japanese government to kill 935 Minke whales, 50 fin whales and 50 humpback whales. They returned to Tokyo harbor with the smallest catch in years: 506 Minke whales, one fin whale and no humpbacks. All of the whales killed by the Japanese fleet are considered protected and endangered.
The whalers and Japan’s Fisheries Agency told BBC News they were angry and blamed what they described as “violent interference” from the anti-whaling Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
But Sea Shepherd is proud that it saved 528 whales from extinction. And the 2010 – 2011 whaling season also ended early, due to actions by Sea Shepherd.
Whale Hunt On Again For 2011
In spite of, or perhaps because of all this, it seems that the Japanese whale hunt is on again for 2011, with the fisheries minister, Michihiko Kano, declaring that measures would be taken to ensure the whalers’ safety. Presumably from the evil Sea Shepherd activists?
The hunt is expected to begin in December.
We can look forward to seeing Sea Shepherd on site once again.
Photo Credit: Michael Dawes