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Group: Japan's Whaling Fleet Set to Sail to Whale Sanctuary; 'No Humane Way to Kill a Whale'

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SHIMONOSEKI, Japan -- The Government of Japan will tomorrow launch a fleet of six boats from Arukaport to commence a new season of whale hunting, despite a global moratorium and international outcry against commercial whaling. Japan’s self-allocated whaling quota permits its whalers to kill up to 935 minke and 10 endangered fin whales.

Japan’s whale hunt starts just weeks after Iceland resumed commercial whaling for the first time in 20 years. Seven fin whales and one minke whale were killed in Iceland since it resumed whaling on Oct. 17, 2006. Much of this whale meat has been frozen due to saturation in the market.

“Whales are under threat not only from those countries that still allow commercial whaling, but also by entanglement, pollution, ocean noise, ship strikes and global warming,” said Dr. Joth Singh, director of wildlife and habitat protection at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “Instead of stockpiling unwanted whale meat, IFAW urges these governments to focus instead on the tremendous global growth in whale watching – no blood needs to be shed.”

Japan hunts under the guise of “scientific” whaling, terminology that allows it to continue whaling despite a global ban on commercial whaling imposed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986. In the 2005/2006 season Japan’s whalers killed 853 minke and 10 fin whales from the Antarctic. Next year Japan may also start hunting endangered humpback whales, with a self-allocated quota of 50.

“Even more shocking is the fact that this whale hunt takes place in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary around Antarctica, established by the IWC in 1994 as a safe haven for these majestic creatures,” said Dr. Singh. The Southern Ocean Sanctuary protects approximately 80% of the world’s whales, including some of those whose winter migrations support thriving multi-million dollar whale watching industries.

An IFAW-sponsored study found that over 100,000 people went whale watching in Japan in 1998, up from 10,992 in 1991. More than 95% of the whale and dolphin watchers in Japan were Japanese. Total expenditures for whale watching in Japan in 1998 was estimated at US$32,984,000.

Regional communities in Japan have profited from the whale watching industry, which provides new jobs and businesses including hotels, restaurants, museums, and shops. Ogata reached its 100,000th whale watcher in 2000 – at that time representing over 10 years of whale watching. In Ogasawara, where whale watching began in Japan in 1988, 1999 saw a new high with 12,000 whale watchers.

Fin whales are listed as “endangered” by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and are second only to the blue whale in terms of size – growing to average lengths of 18-22m and weights of 30-80 tons. They were hunted in significant numbers by whalers in the past, and their population figures are currently unknown. Minke whales are classified as “near threatened” by the IUCN, which cites numerous conservation threats including bycatch and whaling.

“There really is no humane way to kill a whale,” said IFAW scientist and whale expert Vassili Papastavrou. “Many whales that are harpooned sustain horrific injuries and suffer for a long time before eventually dying.” An IFAW analysis of Japanese whaling video footage obtained by Greenpeace concluded that the killing methods for Antarctic minke whales are inefficient and raise serious welfare issues concerning low instantaneous death rates, protracted times to death and the occurrence of asphyxiation as a secondary killing method. Fewer than one in five of the filmed whales were estimated to have died instantaneously.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

3 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

Here in the Dominican Republic we have one of the biggest Humpback whales Sanctuaries at the Silver Bank, and do to the IWC moratorium we have a positive recovery of this cetacean population that is very stimulating. Sadly it is for whalers to. The whale observation programs are paying back to the communities the efforts of preserving the environment, but is extremely sad that other mature cultures like Japan and others like them are ignoring the new vision of the world conservation clamor for stopping the madness of killing for business. We have a web page on all submarine maters in this Caribbean Island and will like to contribute with your excellent work. Probably interchange our links will be a good idea. Good work. Roberto Llerena
   comment# 1   - Roberto Llerena · Dominican Republic · Nov 15, 2006 @ 3:58pm

I have dedicated my life to help bring the special nature of whales to the public. Each whale is important and an individual. As an example, Salt was first identified and given a name in 1975. Her dorsal is mostly white, as if someone sprinkled "salt" on her back. Salt has ten calves and five grandcalves. A DVD (Salt & Friends: Humpback Whales With Names) was produced to introduce her family and 40 other humpback whales. A book, "Crystal: The Story of a Real Baby Whale" was written about her first calf. Each whale is important. Each whale is an individual with a unique personality and a family. If the world would think of whales as individuals, then whaling quotas, would not make sense. There is only one Salt, one Crystal.
   comment# 2   - Dan Knaub · Mechanicsburg PA USA · Feb 4, 2007 @ 11:00am

The whalw sanctuaries are supposed to keep the whales safe. The whales DO NOT BELONG TO JAPAN.Japan must be STOPPED, pull the plug on the Japanese govt. zdzo whatever it takes. LAWS must be in-acted to preserve the rights of all whales. Japan must CLEAR OUT, OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF UNLAWFUL SEIZURE. JAPAN MUST BE BROUGHT TO THEIR KNEES. JAPAN MUST BE MADE TO SUFFER. Japan has always been guilty of cruelty to animals. KNOCK OUT JAPAN TOO FOR THEIR KILLING OF DOLPHINS. JAPAN CAN BE TAKEN OUT, ANY TIME OF DAY OR NIGHT. china & japan & iNDONESIA SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED FOR THEIR CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. THESE COUNTRIES SHOULD BE ''CUT OFF'' ECONOMICALLY SPEAKING, AND SANCTIONS AGAINST THEM SHOULD BE IMPOSED. Sealife is more important than the human population of these countries.
   comment# 3   - anna nardo · erie,P.A. · Oct 29, 2012 @ 6:19pm
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