Over 300 minke whales were killed in Japan’s latest Antarctic Ocean “research mission”, the Japanese Fisheries Agency said yesterday after the country’s whaling fleet return home.
The country sent its four-ship whaling fleet to the Southern Ocean in December 2015 with an aim to kill 333 minke whales for what they claim is scientific research purposes, despite public disapproval of its whaling practices. Japan fulfilled its target number, saying that other means of research, such as taking skin samples and counting whales, are not sufficient for the research.
The government said that the alleged research mission “was conducted in order to shed light on the minke whale populations’ maturing age”.
Prior to the launch of the latest whaling season, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the country plans to catch up to 333 minke whales on an annual basis in the following 12 years.
In 2014 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) made a whaling suspension ruling that banned hunting whales off Antarctica. The court said that Japan’s practices were more aimed at commercial purposes, however, the country later launched a new research program which would see a total of 4,000 whales killed over the 12-year period.
World Maritime News Staff