333 Antarctic minke whales were slaughtered by a Japanese fleet in the name of “science” – even though we have techniques of studying whales without murdering them. 230 of those whales were female, and 90.2 percent of them were pregnant.
Japan ignored international law on a four-month expedition that was not sanctioned by the International Whaling Commission. Back in 2014, the United Nations’ International Court of Justice ruled Japan’s whaling was “illegal” and that it did not fit under scientific whaling requirements. They ordered Japan to stop Antarctic whaling completely. At first Japan agreed to honor the court’s ruling, but just a few months later the nation said it would continue to whale.
Japan commenced whaling under the new program NEWREP-A, claiming they needed to kill whales in order to study their populations. Several countries spoke out against Japan’s announcement, but they proceeded in the face of international condemnation, and even announced they plan to kill around 4,000 Antarctic minke whales in the next 12 years.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, not only do we have techniques to study whales without murdering them, but those techniques are more efficient and accurate.
Environmentalists have condemned Japan for exploiting the concession of scientific whaling when the meat actually ends up in markets rather than labs. According to Reuters, the whale meat from these so-called scientific expeditions is sold in stores even though few Japanese people even eat whale meat.
The slaughter is all the worse because we don’t know the exact population of Antarctic minke whales. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature believes that during 1978 and 2004, there may have been a 60 percent decrease in the whale population. While there is insufficient data to know for sure, if the union is correct, the minke whale would be an endangered species.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation started a petition to encourage the EU to not sign a trade agreement with Japan that’s currently pending until Japan stops whaling. You can sign it here.