Defiant Japan to hold annual whale hunt

Ignores threat from conservation activists who have vowed to disrupt the programme

 
By Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

Japan has decided to go ahead with its annual whale hunt in the Antarctic Ocean this year despite threats from conservation activists who have vowed to disrupt the programme.

The country plans to send its whaling fleet in the sea around December amid tight security.

Japan will go ahead with its annual whale hunt in the Antarctic Ocean despite threats from conservation activists who have vowed to disrupt the programme
The country plans to send its whaling fleet in the sea around December amid tight security
Commercial whaling is banned since 1986 when International Whaling Commission put a moratorium on it
But Japan conducts whale hunts in the Antarctic and north western Pacific under an exception that allows limited kills for research purposes
 
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international non-profit that works on marine-biodiversity conservation, has been opposing the whale hunt programme of Japan. In the past few years, the country’s annual whale hunt has become increasingly difficult as Sea Shepherd vessels follow the Japanese whaling fleets in the sea and disrupt hunting by blocking their way.

The hunt last year was cut short after repeated confrontations between the two sides. Instead of the usual catch of 850-odd whales, Japan could catch only about 170 whales.

Commercial whaling is banned since 1986 when International Whaling Commission put a moratorium on it. But Japan conducts whale hunts in the Antarctic and north western Pacific under an exception that allows limited kills for research purposes. The country claims the research is needed to provide data on whale populations so that the international ban on commercial whaling can be re-examined. Opponents say the programme is a guise for keeping Japan's dwindling whaling industry alive.

With the increasing opposition and fall in the sale of whale meat, the cost of whaling has been rising for the country. Affected by the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year, Japan’s financial condition is not good. Due to these constraints, it was unclear whether the whale hunt would be held at all this year.

But fisheries minister Michihiko Kano reportedly told Associated Press on October 4 that measures would be taken to ensure the whalers' safety, and that the hunt would happen. “We intend to carry out the research after enhancing measures to assure that it is not obstructed,” the news agency quoted Kano as saying.

This has again raised speculations of a violent face-off between the Japanese whaling vessels and the fleet of Sea Shepherds which has also announced that it will come back. It is calling its effort to obstruct the December expedition 'Operation Divine Wind'—a reference to the kamikaze suicide missions carried out by the Japanese military in World War II. “Sea Shepherd will return to the remote waters for their eighth Antarctic Whale Defence Campaign with a stronger anti-whaling fleet in early December 2011 to protect the great whales. This will be the season that defines the future for the whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” says an official press release of the organisation.
 

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