Despite international criticism, Japan continues to perform whaling expeditions – and not in secret. According to reports, Japan confirmed on Thursday that it killed more than 300 minke whales – 200 of which were pregnant – under the pretense of ‘scientific research.’
After almost four months of hunting mission, the ships from Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research returned to land with a tragic cargo on board. Regardless of what the Institute believes, these expeditions are in defiance of the International Court of Justice ruling which makes whaling in Antarctica illegal.
Different countries have made their stance clear regarding Japan’s decision to keep on sending whaling expeditions.
For example, Greg Hunt, Environment Minister in Australia, criticized and condemned the practice publicly. “We do not accept in any way, shape or form the concept of killing whales for so-called ‘scientific research,’” he said.
UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was also deeply disappointed with Japan’s practices. “This undermines the global ban on commercial whaling which the UK strongly supports,” said the ministry.
But what is Japan’s reasoning behind this decision, anyway?
While the nation didn’t ignore the IC Justice ruling, it didn’t completely abide by it either. According to a report from November 2015, Japan said its ‘scientific’ whaling program will only kill 333 minke whales.
Sadly, the BBC News revealed that a large part of the whale meat from the expedition “ends up on the plate.” And yet, the practice is not supported by a great demand among Japanese consumers.
Wired reported that Japan’s consumption of whale meat rises to 4,000-5,000 tons annually. But because the nation’s population consumes about 600 million tons of seafood each year, meat from the sea mammals seem to occupy a lower ranking in meat preference for the dinner plate.
At the same time, Japan’s whaling program is rather minuscule. According to the American Cetacean Society, more than 1 million minke whales are swimming in international waters.
The nation’s ‘scientific research’ program has taken 3,600 minke whales since it launched, with some experts believing that the annual 333 minke whales that are killed are not likely to make a significant impact on the population of the sea mammals.
And it’s not only the Japanese who hunt whales – Norwegians are also professional whalers, and their quota far surpasses the one of Japan, reaching a whopping 1,000 annual. The same goes for Icelandic whalers.
Seeing that minke whales are not endangered, there’s little chance that Japan will change its stance in the near future.
Image Source: Time