Saturday 08 April 2017

Japanese whaling in the North Pacific - more whales to be killed, more trickery

Now back in port after their 2017 Antarctic whaling season, the Japanese whaling fleet is being made ready to sail out once more, to continue its less publicised scientific permit whaling activities in the North-west Pacific.
In November last year (2016), one month after the biennial meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), Japan circulated a document: Proposed Research Plan for New Scientific Whale Research Program in the western North Pacific ­ NEWREP-NP.
Bryde’s whales removed, but the total kill increased
Since 2015, Japan’s previous North Pacific program (JARPN-II) had targeted 100 minke, 90 sei and 20 Bryde's whales. NEWREP-NP will see Bryde’s whales removed from the hunt, but the minke whale kill increased to 174 and the sei whale to 140.
In January this year a special meeting of an IWC expert panel (including Australia) was convened in Tokyo to review the NEWREP-NP proposal. The panel’s report will be considered by the IWC Scientific Committee when it meets in Slovenia next month, from 9 to 21 May.
But of course Japan does not intend to wait for the Scientific Committee’s findings. The NEWREP-NP document states that “sampling will commence in 2017”.
Interestingly, the proposal also states “Japan considers the sei whale to be one of the target species for commercial whaling in the future”. It would seem that the future is already here, with the sei whale kill increased from 90 to 140 and all destined for Japan’s commercial market.
Clear contempt for IWC decisions
Since the IWC commercial whaling moratorium came into effect in 1985-86, Japan has tried unsuccessfully to convince the IWC to allocate commercial whaling quotas to various coastal communities. It seems NEWREP-NP will now be used to extend the abuse of the scientific permit whaling loophole even further, by including Japanese coastal whaling activity in its “science”. While some whaling will take place on the open ocean, involving the Nisshin Maru factory ship and its catcher fleet, much of the minke whaling will be conducted by smaller inshore vessels.
According Japan’s proposal: “The vessels depart the port(s) every morning, and return every night. All whales (killed) will be transported by tracks from the port to the nearest land station.” A number of ports will be involved, both on the main island of Honshu and on Hokkaido to the north. Depending on the location of the various ports, the Nisshin Maru may move inshore “to be used as a research station when necessary”.


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