Japan Slaughtered 333 Whales In 'Scientific' Expedition

Four ships from Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research have returned to their home port after a "scientific" expedition to the Antarctic region. The fleet claims to have captured 333 minke whales — including pregnant females — in blatant disregard of an international ruling.

An ICR expedition from 2014. Image: EPA/Tim Watters/Sea Shepherd Australia/AAP

The 115-day expedition was the first Antarctic harvest since the International Court of Justice's ruling in 2014 which said Japan's Antarctic whaling program is not a scientific endeavour, as the country claims, and it must stop. Last year, Japan conducted non-lethal research, but it now says that killing the whales is essential to its ongoing work.


The 333 minke whales reaches the quota the Institute of Cetacean Research set for itself two years ago (the yield is about one-third of what it used to catch). The Institute has outlined a 12-year program that would result in the slaughter of nearly 4,000 whales. The aquatic mammals were hunted in Antarctic waters, including areas claimed by Australia, which has criticised the harvest, claiming that "lethal scientific research is not necessary." Australia and New Zealand have threatened legal action and say they will consider dispatching patrol vessels to the Antarctic waters.

In 1982, the International Whaling Commission invoked a ban on commercial whaling, but scientific research was exempted. Critics of the Antarctic hunt say Japan is using this exemption as a cloak for commercial whaling since a significant portion of the dead whales are sold.

[The Guardian, CTV News]

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    It is the nature of those people to be so cruel. Think Manchuria in the 1930's. Maybe we should ween ourselves of their products like cars and electronics in favour of South Korean alternatives. It is a pity that the Americans support them.

    We seafarers know that whales have greatly increased in numbers and have become a hazard to navigation. A cull of 300 odd is nothing. They are just mammals and not as smart as a pig, so what next, no bacon or steak or kangaroo? The cull should be 3000.

    Maybe we should start sinking some of those whaling ships for "scientific research"

    People who tend to comment on this topic, lack in understanding the greater politics of the situation.
    The IWC leaves this loophole, because they want to let them do their thing, however, they want to monitor their catchment closely.
    If they straight out said no, Japan would leave the IWC, and continue to do as they please, without any monitoring. They are not compelled to be part of it, other whaling countries are not.

    So the IWC have a choice to make, do they allow whaling under the pretense of scientific research, and monitor the situation, or do they put their foot down and say no? To which japan would say right-o chaps we'll just leave the IWC.

    If you're a smart person, you'd say it's better to keep an eye on the situation, and have them catch whales whose populations are not under threat. Keep them onside and convince them to reduce catchment. Sure it's a long play, however it's the smart way to go about it.

    I hope anyone who opposes whaling, is vegetarian. It's really quite hypocritical otherwise.

      I hope anyone who opposes whaling, is vegetarian. It's really quite hypocritical otherwise.
      It's rational for a non-vegetarian to oppose whaling because (1) the methods used to kill the whales are inhumane and there seems to be a lack of humane options; and (2) there is some evidence that whales are at least semi-intelligent.

      Now, it is true that some killing of meat animals such as cattle is also inhumane, but there are frameworks in place which at least try to limit the extent of such problems. In contrast, I don't think anyone's come up with a way to capture whales which doesn't involve extensive suffering.

      That said, I have to agree that the only people who are really in a position to stop the Japanese from whaling are the Japanese.

        People in possession of torpedoes are also in a position to stop them. :)

        Yes, Mr. Hypocritical up there does not seem to understand that we don't kill chickens and cows by harpooning them through the stomach and letting them bleed to death, in agony, over the course of several hours.

      Furthermore the IWC was established to coordinate rehabilitation of whale stocks to place commercial whaling on a sustainable trajectory, hence the moratorium. It was never intended as a conservation body.

      Re vegeterianism:
      If you can't imagine any valid reason why a person might value a whale more highly than a chicken, you're utterly irrational.
      If you can imagine such a reason, you're dishonest (aka full of crap).

        Would you care to elaborate on why a chicken's life is of lesser value than a whales?

        The previous poster Gregorvorbarra touched on some actual points, regards 'humane' killing but also acknowledged that there is no 'humane' method regardless. Only accepted levels of pain on the animals behalf.

        The reasons people tend to value whales more so than other animals are purely emotional with little logical reasoning. People tend to resonate and empathise with whales more so than other animals because they're perceived as being more 'family orientated' animals, or they have 'beautiful songs'. Or for the common yet unproven reason, they are more intelligent.
        This is disingenuous because because it implies other animals that people commonly eat lack these things.
        Your comment implies that you believe that whales should be seen as more valuable than chickens, and from what most people think, it may be because chickens are not considered intelligent creatures.
        When it comes to the chicken, they are extremely intelligent, are easily trained, and are able to respond to commands, and complete complex tasks such as counting, sorting, maneuver obstacles and do other tricks that you'd teach dogs. Most people would agree that dogs hold quite the level of intelligence, which is why eating dogs in western society is considered to be a bit of no no.
        However a counter argument would be to not consider the animals intelligence as a means as to why we don't eat it. Rather, the ability to replenish it's stocks and/or farm it.
        From this argument, you acknowledge that all animals have a level of intelligence and/or emotional capacity ( cows are known to hold very strong family ties and be deeply emotional ).
        Chickens would be a suitable candidate to farm/eat because they take up little space, don't need a lot of food, and produce a high level of energy output for energy input.
        Whales on the other hand are not so easily farmed. However whales such as the minky whale ( the one the japanese catch ) are in relatively high population levels, where controlled levels of hunting have negligible impacts to population.

        So given logical reasoning, the hunting of whales can be done in a way that is sustainable. What it can't do is appease those who don't believe in the suffering of animals. i.e people who are vegetarian ( because most vegetarians are not allergic to meat )

        If you want to know my personal stance, I'm somewhat indifferent. On one hand, I don't see it as necessary ( as 'news' articles would suggest that it's not really in demand ). However the 'inhumane' argument doesn't stack up with me, because other predators ( in the wild ) do not kill in a 'humane' way and other methods of slaughter ( halal most notably ) are not humane.
        I would be against if however, it you could show that it's being done un-sustainability.

        Last edited 28/03/16 6:47 pm

          Wow, a wall of misdirection!

          There are a thousand reasons why a person might think that a whale is worth more than a chicken.
          Some of them will be emotional reasons.
          Some of them will be irrational reasons.
          Some of them will be rational, but based on different values than you hold,

          Every person who has such a reason, regardless of that reason, IS NOT A HYPOCRITE, and when you claim they are, you demonstrate that you're incompetent at thought.

    I wonder what would happen if an Australian navy vessel forced all the sailors off one of their "research" boats and then sank it?

    It's a shame international politics is so complex, because that's what I'd like to do.

      It's tempting, but there is a technical term for what you describe, which is "piracy." It's also a crime.

      It's also a game we would have trouble winning, as Japan has a larger navy than we do, although they also have a constitutional provision that it can only be used as a defence force. Defending their ships against attacks by our ships would probably qualify.

        It's more complex than that. In international waters, yes. Piracy. Certainly.

        In the Australian territorial waters it's a different question, but Japan doesn't recognise Australia's claim to the Australian Antarctic Territory, so seizing the ship and crew would likely lead to retaliation and international court action if not outright war. Australia would also be without allies in that situation because potential allies like the USA are resisting similar unilateral territorial claims in the South China Sea.

        This, of course, ignores that Australian law doesn't give the navy the right to sink ships engaged in whaling, and it's not clear if illegal fishing laws would apply.

    "Australia and New Zealand have threatened legal action..."

    Part of the problem is that we only threaten. I know this is all part of international diplomacy but Japan is just giving the rest of the world the finger and doing precisely what it wants.

      Problem is that there isn't a heck of a lot that one sovereign nation can force another to do without the use of military force. Sanctions are one option, but since we sell them more stuff than they sell us, a trade war would end in their favour, not ours.

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