Japan’s whaling fleet targeting Humpbacks for first time in more than 40 years.20/12/2006 00:00:00
IGNORING international protests, the Japanese whaling fleet has sailed to start an expanded annual whale hunt that will, for the first time in 40 years, target humpback whales.
The fleet plans to kill 50 humpbacks as they head to their feeding grounds in the Antarctic, under its so called ‘scientific’ whale research programme. The Nisshin Maru factory ship left Shimonoseki port followed by three catcher boats on 18th November.
The annual whaling expedition, and especially the decision to target ‘vulnerable’-listed humpbacks, has generated outrage worldwide, and especially within the governments of Australia and New Zealand which have thriving whale-watching industries.
The fleet plans to kill more than 1,000 whales in its Southern Hemisphere expedition, ignoring the 1994 International Whaling Commission (IWC) whale sanctuary which covers the Southern Ocean area.
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is standing by off the coast of Japan to shadow the fleet south. Additionally, the Seashepherd Conservation Society ship, Farley Mowat, has set sail for the Antarctic with the intention of disrupting the hunt in every way it can.
Japan uses a loophole in the 20-year long international moratorium on commercial whaling to carry out killing allegedly for ‘scientific research.’ But scientists worldwide have strongly criticised the ‘science’, stating that any useful results can, in any case, be obtained by non-lethal means, such as the Great Whale Trail project.
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigators currently in the region have gathered evidence of vast amounts of whale meat on sale in shops, markets and restaurants.
EIA research has proven that much of what is sold as whale meat is unfit for human consumption. Independently-tested whale, porpoise and dolphin meat has been repeatedly found to contain pollutants such as mercury at extremely high levels, up to 10 times recommended safe levels according to Japan’s own government regulations.