Monday, October 1, 2012

Japan's Final Charge?

Japan has confirmed it will go whaling in the Antarctic this summer.
Following news that its ageing factory ship Nisshin Maru needs major work to extend its life for another 10yrs (many hoped this may mean NO whaling this Southern summer season), the whalers are now seeking government funding to do the overhaul.
The Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) wants an immediate refit of the world's only factory whaling ship, so it can again sail in November: the official in charge of whaling, Tatsuya Nakaoku, says there's no way Japan will miss it.
But it'll face the largest anti-whaling fleet yet mounted. Sea Shepherd will send 120 crew aboard four ships, with two helicopters and four aerial drones.
A govt committee is considering whether to subsidise the whaling programme under a broad fisheries assistance scheme. Last year the whalers scored $28.5m in a tsunami relief mini-budget, in addition to their usual $13m base subsidy. Respected Japanese newspaper Asahi reports this year the Ministry of Finance is against any increase in the base subsidy. But the FAJ is examining options under the Profitable Fishery Foundation Support scheme as it seeks to achieve energy and cost savings. Once again, it's manipulating loopholes - this time in its own country's laws! - to exploit the whales. The refit, if approved, could take several months. Nisshin Maru usually leaves for the Antarctic in mid-November with its whale chasers and resupply ship, so time is very tight.
Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan executive director, 'talks the talk': "Every year this industry sinks further into unmanageable debt and the mountain of whale meat in frozen storage increases. We repeat our call for an end to this senseless hunt."
But Sea Shepherd - which actually 'walks the walk' - says Japan has always had every intention of returning to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. It claims sources in Japan have reported the whaling fleet is merely trying to discourage SS from sending its vessels, a weak fruitless ploy. Signs suggest the whalers will not be able to survive another season of losses if SS obstructs their operations one more time. Watson (still in hiding): "SS now has a larger and better equipped fleet than the whalers do. They will not only lose tens of millions of dollars in the upcoming season, but they'll be quite humiliated, so it really is in their best interest to not return."

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