Antarctic whale hunt won’t be canceled
The annual Antarctic whale hunt will be carried out later this year under heightened security to fend off activists who have vowed to disrupt the cull, the fisheries minister.
The nation’s whale hunts have become increasingly tense in recent years because of clashes with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The most recent expedition was cut short after several high-seas confrontations, and it was unclear if this year’s hunt would come about.
But fisheries minister Michihiko Kano said measures would be taken to ensure the whalers’ safety, and the hunt, expected to begin in December, will go ahead. “We intend to carry out the research (whaling) after enhancing measures to assure that it is not obstructed,” he said.
Commercial whaling has been banned since 1986, but Japan conducts whale hunts in the Antarctic and Northwest Pacific under an exception that allows limited kills for research purposes.
The government claims the research is needed to provide data on whale populations so the international ban on commercial whaling can be re-examined — and, Japan hopes, lifted — based on scientific studies.
Opponents say the program is a guise for keeping Japan’s dwindling whaling industry alive. Sea Shepherd, which is already rallying to block the hunt, has been particularly dogged in its efforts to stop the kills.
Last year’s season was marred by repeated incidents with Sea Shepherd vessels, one of which sank after a Japanese whaling ship chopped off its bow. The boat’s captain, New Zealander Peter Bethune, was later arrested when he boarded the whaling ship from a jet ski, and brought back to Japan for trial.
He was convicted of assault, vandalism and three other charges and given a suspended prison term. Bethune has since returned to New Zealand.
Sea Shepherd recently announced it is calling its effort to obstruct the December hunt “Operation Divine Wind” — a reference to the kamikaze suicide missions carried out by the Japanese military in World War II.
Though vilified by antiwhaling organizations around the world, the government’s strong prowhaling position has the support of the Japanese public, according to an AP poll conducted in July and August.
Fifty-two percent favor it, 35 percent are neutral and 13 percent are opposed, the poll found.
Once common in school lunches, whale meat can be found in stores and restaurants in Japan. But, because of its relatively high price, it is generally regarded as a gourmet food by the public.
- Japan to Stop Antarctic Whaling? | 80beats (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- ArtsBeat: Animal Planet Starts Filming on ‘Whale Wars’ Spin-off (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Stop the terrorists (lancewiggs.com)
- Pete Bethune’s Criminal Trial Set to Begin in Japan (prweb.com)
- Iceland, Norway, and Japan are brutally killing whales… Philip Radford, Greenpeace (ynative77.wordpress.com)
- Why Japan’s Whale Hunt Continues (time.com)
- What are gray whales used for (wiki.answers.com)
- Japan hunts 195 whales in northwest Pacific Ocean (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Sea Shepherd Investigates Secret Underwater Pilot Whale Graveyard (yubanet.com)
- Travel : Watching Whale in Sydney (socyberty.com)