The Whale’s Voice: Japan cuts whaling season short at 70% below quota – a win for whales & Victorious Anti-Whaling activists return to Australia

Japan cuts whaling season short at 70% below quota – a win for whales

Taryn Kiekow

Co-written with Marine Mammals Program Assistant Lauren Packard

Recent reports from the Japanese Fisheries Agency confirm that Japanese whaling ships have returned home from the Southern Ocean after catching 266 minke whales and 1 fin whale. Although the Japanese whalers did kill hundreds of whales, this new development is nonetheless a win for the whales; the whalers’ total haul represents less than a third of Japan’s (self-allocated) quota of 900 “takes” per year, despite a $30 million increase in the whaling fleet’s security (drawn from tsunami relief funds).

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Japan is blaming its comparatively meager catch on a combination of harsh weather conditions and the combined actions of various “saboteurs.” Of course, chief amongst those activists is the group Sea Shepherd, whose  unconventional tactics—tailing Japanese ships for three months over thousands of nautical miles; tossing stink bombs, grappling hooks, and paint-filled bottles aboard whaling vessels; and even scrambling aboard Japanese ships themselves and refusing to leave until whalers dropped them off in Australia (costing the whalers countless days of hunting)—have been documented on the popular show Whale Wars. Sea Shepherd recently declared victory  for once again disrupting the Japanese whaling season.

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Reducing the length of Japan’s whaling season – and number of whales killed – is a positive step for the whales.  Last year, for instance, Japan caught just a quarter of its quota; this year, it caught less than a third.  These declining numbers—compounded with an anti-whaling shift in the Japanese public consciousness and international outcry against commercial whaling (Japan flouts international law when it hunts whales in an internationally-designated whale sanctuary for alleged “scientific research”)—hopefully spell the beginning of the end for Japanese whaling.

Source: NRDC

Victorious Anti-Whaling Activists Return to Australia

Phil Mercer | Sydney

A small boat from the Sea Shepherd vessel, Steve Irwin, makes a reconnaissance trip past the Japanese whaling ship the Shonan Maru #2 near Freemantle in this handout picture released to Reuters on January 8, 2012.

Photo: Reuters
A small boat from the Sea Shepherd vessel, Steve Irwin, makes a reconnaissance trip past the Japanese whaling ship the Shonan Maru #2 near Freemantle in this handout picture released to Reuters on January 8, 2012.

After claiming victory against Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean that encircles Antarctica, members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have returned to the Australian port of Hobart. Last week the whaling fleet abandoned its annual hunt for a second year in a row.

Sea Shepherd activists say they have won a decisive victory against the Japanese fleet, which caught less than 30 percent of its annual quota.

For almost a decade the U.S.-based anti-whaling group has tracked the whalers into the Southern Ocean, in an attempt to disrupt their hunt.

This season’s campaign was called Operation Divine Wind, after the Japanese Kamikaze pilots of the World War II.

The Sea Shepherd ship the Bob Barker sailed into Hobart to a small crowd early Wednesday.  Onboard were 28 volunteer crew members, half of them Australian.
They hope that economic losses will soon force Japan to end its controversial hunt in Antarctic waters.

The captain of the Bob Barker, Peter Hammarstedt, says he was surprised how quickly the Japanese abandoned their activities when they were spotted.

“For us it was not an incredibly dramatic confrontation.  As soon as the Nisshin Maru, which is the factory whaling ship, saw us on the horizon that is when they decided [to] immediately change course for Japan and they have been heading home ever since,” he said.

“This year, the Japanese whaling fleet decided that rather than have confrontation with us they would call the whaling season short, and as a result we were able to save 768 whales from slaughter.”

Japan’s Fisheries Agency denies the whaling ships were bullied by activists and insisted they left the Southern Ocean “as scheduled.”  The fleet ended its annual hunt with a third of its intended haul.

The Institute of Cetacean Research, which sponsors Japan’s whaling activities, has accused Sea Shepherd activists of trying to sabotage its factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, by hurling ropes with hooks attached and throwing glass bottles of paint.

Commercial whaling has been outlawed for 25 years, but Tokyo has an intention to catch about 1,000 whales annually in what it says is a scientific research program.

The Australian government welcomed the early end to Japan’s whaling season.  Canberra says the hunt is against international law, which is why Australia is continuing legal action to try to stop the annual hunt in the International Court of Justice.

Source: Voice of America



~ by FSVSF Admin on 26 March, 2012.

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