Saturday 30 April 2011

The news was too good to be true

In case there was any remaining doubt about the inaccuracy of last week’s news reports that Japan had announced an end to its whaling activities, it has been confirmed that three whaling vessels set sail from Kushiro this week in preparation for Japan’s annual "scientific" whale hunt in the north Pacific.

The ships would normally operate out of Ishinomaki, on the north-east coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island. However, Ishinomaki lay in the path of the March tsunami and its port of Ayukawa remains badly damaged. Kushiro, on Japan’s second largest island of Hokkaido, to the north of Honshu, survived.

The whaling vessels will join others taking part in Japan’s "Research Plan for Cetacean Studies In the Western North Pacific Under Special Permit". Known as JARPN II, it is a contentious whaling program being conducted during what is supposed to be a global moratorium on commercial whaling, and is similar to Japan’s Antarctic scientific whaling (JARPA II).  The permits and catch quotas are issued by the Japanese Government to its Institute of Cetacean Research. The IRC was established in 1987 (the year after the commercial whaling ban came into force) and is administered - somewhat tellingly - by the Japan Fisheries Agency.

Last year JARPN II claimed 101 sei, 165 minke, 50 Bryde’s and 1 sperm whale.


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