Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Whalers' Worst Year EVER!

The Japanese whaling fleet's had its worst-ever season in the Southern Ocean.
Sea Shepherd says the nasty Nippons only caught 103 whales in 2012-13, less than 10% of their quota. The Japanese Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) had intended to catch 50 humpback whales, 50 fin and 935 minke this season.
SS says with the costs of outfitting, fuelling and operating the Japanese whaling fleet rising and catches dwindling each year, it's economic lunacy to continue the hunt. Yet still they DO!
One of the few caught in 2012-2013
Japan's Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Yoshimasa Hayashi (who earlier this year called whaling criticisms "a cultural attack, a prejudice against Japanese culture") says the low haul is down to the "unforgiveable sabotage" by SS.
In previous years, the whalers had managed to kill hundreds of whales, generally minke or fin, in some cases endangered humpback. But it was revealed last year that companies had failed to shift 908 tonnes of 2011-2012's 1,211-tonne haul and, on top of huge subsidies provided by the Japanese govt to keep the flailing whale meat business afloat, this year is the industry's worst.
Japan however shows no signs of changing course, with Hayashi saying it'll "seek more support from other countries to conduct research whaling in a stable manner". Exactly which 'other countries' is unclear, considering Australia filed a lawsuit against Japan in 2010 with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing it of breaching the 1986 global ban, and there are unified calls coming from US, Netherlands, Oz and NZ to stop any activity that "imperils human life". Perhaps Japan speaks of kindred whaling nations, Norway and Iceland, which have stayed out of headlines of late.
This year, Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke affirmed Australia's position, after the whalers spent part of the season veering into the protected Sthrn Ocean Whale Sanctuary waters of its territory: "There's nothing scientific about harpooning a whale and chopping it up and then putting its meat on a plate. It's the reason Australia is taking Japan to the ICJ."
Dodging a hunting ban under the guise of 'scientific research' is widely seen as a ruse. Japan has argued there's no other means of studying the whale's organs, supposed indispensable data which bizarrely Japan is gathering to justify a return to commercial whaling. ICR: "It is science to ensure that when commercial whaling is resumed it will be sustainable." Note when, not if.
Nevertheless, when Hayashi called criticism of Japan's whaling a cultural attack, he veered dangerously close to admitting the scientific research is indeed a fallacy, and that it's the cultural factors relating to Japan's traditions, cuisine and history that have kept the industry so adamantly afloat. The ICR refers to the criticism as a "predominantly Western phenomenon", again pumping up the cultural differences, as opposed to solely standing by its scientific research justification...
Japan can't have its whale steak and eat it too.
[...with thanx to Wired.co.uk]

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