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

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Posted March 12, 2012

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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).

Thumbnail image for 2009_7_25_JAPAN_Chiba_cetacean_Wada BBW dorsal blubber incision_CMP_2058.JPG

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.

Thumbnail image for MinkeWhale NOAA.jpgReducing 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.


Photo Credit: EIA and NOAA, respectively. 

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WombatMar 12 2012 08:42 PM

Wonder if the Tsunami is the sea exacting retribution on Japan on behalf of the whales and other sea creatures?

Eduardo SanchezMar 12 2012 09:22 PM

Wombat, one would hope that there's some form of retribution headed your way for making such a nasty and detestible comment.

SandraMar 13 2012 12:45 PM

YEA! A win for whales. LOVE the Sea Shepherd and ANYONE who puts honesty and truth above falsehoods. To argue that these whales are being harvested for "research" is a travesty and should be a national embarrassment. They take these whales for profit, as they always have, using "science" as a mere guise to break international law.
And wombat, that is a truly detestable comment.

Just me!Mar 13 2012 07:33 PM

Put your wallet where you mouth is: I won't buy a Japanese car because of whaling...I have I gone to Spain because of bullfighting.

WombatMar 14 2012 01:01 AM

Hey Eduardo and Sandra,

Maybe, but do you believe in karma? You reap what you sow, and all of us, you two and myself included will answer for all the evils we may have done, in this life or the next. Japan being a majority Buddhist nation, you might think would understand the concept. The comment is only detestable if you think yourself better than everything else on the planet including Mother Nature. We humans seem to think we have a right to do whatever we want/take whatever we want without consequence. But sooner or later, we must all pay the price.

MichaelMar 18 2012 12:58 PM

Wombat, your follow up comment clarifies what you meant. I agree with you, in the idea that for every negative action we humans have against this planet, especially the oceans, we will see a negative impact. We at Sea Shepherd will continue to fight to ensure a sustainable future.

Kevin AubieMar 18 2012 01:15 PM

Congratulations sea sheppard. You are all heroes in my book.

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