Japanese fleet kills 333 whales in Antarctic hunt

A report confirmed 333 minke whales were captured in Japan's latest research expedition

Japan's whaling fleet has slaughtered 333 minke whales near Antarctica since December, including 200 pregnant females, the nation's Fisheries Agency has boasted. 90 percent of the mature females were pregnant.

Japanese whalers returned from their 115-day Antarctic hunt with more than 300 minke whales, spurring controversy among environmentalists and nations opposed to the slaughter "for research".

"The scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission and independent experts reporting to that body have shown Japan's rationale for this so-called research and its method for calculating sample size are both spurious".

While the world has every right to be outraged with Japan's continued hunt after the year hiatus, in Japan's defense, even if for self-serving reasons, they did carry out "non-lethal" research as well during the hunt that ended today with its arrival at Shimonoseki port in western Japan.

Not only was it flouting an International Court of Justice ruling that it should rescind its whaling permits as well as a global moratorium, it was also ignoring a British and EU demarche condemning its so-called "research" in the Southern Ocean.

Over the next 12 years Japan expects to capture an estimated 4,000 whales as part of its research program. 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.

In the 2013-14 season, just 251 minke whales were caught, while the figure was only 103 in the season before.

Japanese whaling vessels set off to the Southern Ocean
Kyodo Japanese whaling vessels set off to the Southern Ocean

Japan then amended its plan for the next season to cut the number of minke whales it aimed to take by two-thirds from previous hunts.

Equally ironic(?) is that this "lethal research" is designed so that Japan can claim that there are enough minkes to continue commercial hunting of the large mammals.

"Attaching GPS devices helps us study minke whales' migration routes by tracking them for several days", agency official Hiroyuki Morita told AFP speaking to its "research". Many people in Japan claim they "rarely" or "never" eat the meat.

The Australian government says Japan's decision to go forward with killing the whales was "deeply disappointing", but the conservation group Sea Shepherd claimed Australia and New Zealand did not try to intercept the Japanese fleet on its way to begin the hunt, according to The Guardian.


"Sea Shepherd will soon have a fast long-range ship, and more importantly Sea Shepherd has something that the Australian and New Zealand governments lack and that is the courage, the passion and the resolve to uphold the law", he said.