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Japan says it killed 251 minke whales in final Antarctic hunt

38 Comments

Japan killed 251 minke whales during the 2014 Antarctic hunt, in what is expected to be the last "research whaling" mission in the Southern Ocean after an international court ruling.

According to data released by Japan's Fisheries Agency, the catch was more than double last year's tally of 103 minke whales, but much smaller than the target of 935.

The whalers caught no fin whales during the hunt, which ran between January 3 and March 13, the agency said.

Japan is a signatory to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which bans commercial hunting, but has insisted its operation was research -- even though it acknowledged the meat from the animals ended up on dinner tables.

Militant environmentalist group Sea Shepherd has annually sent its vessels to the Southern Ocean to confront the whalers, and has in the past taken credit for the vastly-reduced catch.

The United Nations' International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled last week that the program was a commercial hunt disguised as science, vindicating claims by opponents, notably Australia.

In the wake of the verdict, Japan said it was cancelling the annual Antarctic mission for the first time in more than a quarter of a century.

Japan has another research whaling program that operates in the northwestern Pacific.

This hunt, which is not affected by the court ruling, operates two excursions a year, in coastal waters and offshore, from early summer through autumn.

Last year's whaling in the area netted 58 minke whales in coastal waters and 132 mammals -- including minke, sei and sperm whales -- offshore.

Analysts say Japan will likely have to review this program in the Pacific in light of the UN court ruling.

Japanese fishermen also catch a small number of whales in coastal waters under an IWC provision allowing for small-scale "indigenous whaling".

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Japan is a signatory to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which bans commercial hunting, but has insisted its operation was research—even though it acknowledged the meat from the animals ended up on dinner tables.

Research?? What a joke!

5 ( +15 / -10 )

The only thing being researched is how they much of the international community can they fool with commercial whaling under the guise of science.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

I hate to say it, but technically according to IWC rules it is NOT wrong for the meat to be sold for food after "scientific" whaling is carried out, what is wrong is to waste the meat. It's not widely known, but the IWC was originally set up to manage WHALING, not whales.

Another thing that's not widely known is that eating whale was not all that widespread in Japan until after World War Two, when the Occupation encouraged it as a good source of protein that was readily available and cheap.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

So you guys will be happy if Japan resumes Commercial Whaling under objection like Norway and Iceland does? Or maybe simply leaves the IWC and resumes unregulated Commercial Whaling?

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

"To hunt a species to extinction is not logical."

"Whoever said the human race was logical?"

2 ( +5 / -3 )

AFP seem to get it wrong a lot and on a variety of subjects.

This idea from AFP that it is the last whaling in the Antarctic is not accurate at all, it's only going to erroneously build up expectations.

The ICJ court ruling didn't say Japan's whaling was commercial whaling in disguise, they said it was broadly scientific research, but the 12-4 majority judged that it wasn't up to snuff.

They made it clear that Japan can design a new research plan so long as Japan addresses the points in the ICJ ruling.

Of course, Japan might call it quits, but the ICJ decision doesn't oblige it to.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Problem with commercial whaling is that there doesn't seem to be much of a market for it. Where is the demand? It's not very big. It's not like it's tuna, which is the global demand, especially with the popularity with sushi and sashimi.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Shame Japanese Whalers, shame! hang your head.

-1 ( +8 / -8 )

"To hunt a species to extinction is not logical."

"Whoever said the human race was logical?"

Logical enough to know that exterminating a species is NOT the right way to go.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Japan's research whaling is phony as a three dollar bill.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

251 whales thatll probably end up a pet food.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

@OssanAmerican,

You present what is called in logic, a false dichotomy. There are other views.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Japan says it killed 251 minke whales in final Antarctic hunt

And learned what?

6 ( +12 / -6 )

The animals do not end up on dinner tables! They end up in freezers cos next to nobody eats the crap!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Minke Whales 0: Japan 251

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Wow the target was 935? for scientific research? INSANE

5 ( +7 / -2 )

This is how ridiculous Japan's research whaling is (was): They set a target of nearly a thousand whales to make the research commercially viable by selling the meat. The purpose of their research was to prove commercial whaling was viable. At present there is 5,000 tons of whale meat stored around the country that they can't even give away. If SS hadn't harassed them and kept their catch to around 25% of their quota there would be 15,000 tons more whale meat rotting in freezers around the country. Commercial whaling can never be viable if there is no market to sell the meat regardless of their research to show there are ample whale stocks. It's just absolutely ridiculous! They have wasted tens of millions of dollars on this farce and even used money from the Tohoku rebuilding fund. My guess is, the Japan Fisheries Dept. is actually glad their research was outlawed by the ICJ. It gave them a chance to pull out of this money pit and blame it on western culture Interfering with Japanese culture.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

It is not a ban but a moratorium which was supposed to be cancelled by 1990. It is a shame that the “moratorium,” or a temporal stop of commercial whaling, continued such a long time.

In_japanApr. 10, 2014 - 10:58AM JST

Wow the target was 935? for scientific research? INSANE

Read the ICJ ruling. ICJ criticized that the number of whales hunted by Japan was too small.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

OssanAmericaAPR. 10, 2014 - 08:58AM JST So you guys will be happy if Japan resumes Commercial Whaling under objection like Norway and Iceland does? Or maybe simply leaves the IWC and resumes unregulated Commercial Whaling?

At least its being honest - Norway and Iceland are open and honest about what they do. Japan demonstrated a propensity for being deceitful and has damaged its international image.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japan killed 251 minke whales during the 2014 Antarctic hunt

251 too many.

the 12-4 majority judged that it wasn't up to snuff.

The 12-4 majority judged that the whaling programme was not planned or carried out for purposes of scientific research

ICJ criticized that the number of whales hunted by Japan was too small.

No it didn't. It pointed out that although the initial quota was huge, the actual numbers taken were low and so were of little use in achieving the stated aims of the 'research' for which the huge numbers were claimed to be necessary (why else have such huge quotas?). Despite this, the icr made no attempt at all to revise its research aims - this is what the ICJ criticised.

The whalers caught no fin whales during the hunt also no humpbacks, yet one of the stated aims of the 'research' is "modelling competition among whale species". They took only one species of whale, from which it is impossible to carry out any kind of "modelling competition among whale species", making it obvious that research was not the purpose of the harpoon fest.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

igloobuyerApr. 10, 2014 - 11:35AM JST "OssanAmericaAPR. 10, 2014 - 08:58AM JST So you guys will be happy if Japan resumes Commercial Whaling under objection like Norway and Iceland does? Or maybe simply leaves the IWC and resumes unregulated Commercial Whaling?"

At least its being honest - Norway and Iceland are open and honest about what they do. Japan demonstrated a >propensity for being deceitful and has damaged its international image.

Honest? If you want to preserve whales what difference does it make whether they are killed for research or food? If you read the ICJ ruling Japan is free to carry on Research Whaling provided it modifies it's program. There is no assurance that they will though.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Japan says it killed 251 minke whales in final Antarctic hunt

Japan?

Japan killed them?

What, en masse?

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

OssanAmerica

Honest? If you want to preserve whales what difference does it make whether they are killed for research or food? If you read the ICJ ruling Japan is free to carry on Research Whaling provided it modifies it's program. There is no assurance that they will though.

So now you're a whale preservation supporter? Great.

The point being they deliberately set out to deceive the international community. They thought, "hey, we can continue whaling if we claim to do research - then we don't have to deal with any 'meiwaku' , or disrupt the 'wa' (or tatemae)." As you no doubt are aware, avoiding 'trouble' trumps openness and honesty. But this won't wash in the international community where honesty is more greatly valued. Hopefully, Japan has learnt from the experience.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

If we are serious, Japan was certainly aiming to conduct research - the fact that you've got 4 judges dissent in the 12-4 majority and side with Japan made that clear.

The ICJ majority of judges just put a burden of proof on Japan, the defendant, instead of on Australia, but there is no suggestion that there was bad faith on Japan's part. I mean, look at the decision - the ICJ has left Japan the option of firing up a new project, so long as it's better justified than the last one was. That's not a telling them off for being deceitful.

(That 4 judges dissented makes you wonder. If there weren't a few less judges from anti-whaling countries on the panel what the result might have been? Even the French judge sided with Japan.)

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

fxgaiAPR. 10, 2014 - 12:55PM JST If we are serious, Japan was certainly aiming to conduct research - the fact that you've got 4 judges dissent in the 12-4 majority and side with Japan made that clear.

The ICJ majority of judges just put a burden of proof on Japan, the defendant, instead of on Australia, but there is no suggestion that there was bad faith on Japan's part. I mean, look at the decision - the ICJ has left Japan the option of firing up a new project, so long as it's better justified than the last one was. That's not a telling them off for being deceitful.

(That 4 judges dissented makes you wonder. If there weren't a few less judges from anti-whaling countries on the panel what the result might have been? Even the French judge sided with Japan.)

I think too many assumptions are being made here. You are assuming that the judges made their decision based on whether they felt the research was legitimate or not. Therefore, following your argument 4 out of the 12 judges believed Japan was conducting legitimate research. Clearly there were a variety of factors at play in the judges decision. We could quite easily assume that all judges, including the 4 you mentioned, agreed that the research looked very dodgy, but based their final decision on a combination of this and other factors.

The fact almost the entire marine mammal science community poo-pooed Japan's science speaks volumes.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

What a waste of resources and life!!!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

letsberealisticApr. 10, 2014 - 01:53PM JST

I think too many assumptions are being made here. You are assuming that the judges made their decision based on whether they felt the research was legitimate or not.

You can read the dissenting opinions of the 4 judges here. http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=3&k=64&case=148&code=aj&p3=4 They are indeed saying that JARPA2 research whaling is scientific research and legitimate. Actually, all 16 judges agreed JARPA2 is scientific research. 11judges said that, though JARPA2 is scientific research, it is not for purpose of scientific research. 4 judges disagreed that any scientific research is for purpose of scientific research. 1 judge from China found JARPA is for purpose of scientific research but is not allowed for whatever reason I cannot understand after reading his opinion.

The fact almost the entire marine mammal science community poo-pooed Japan's science speaks volumes.

Never heard of it. At least, Scientific Commitee of Internatuonal Whaling Commission welcomed JARPA2.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

CH3CHOAPR. 10, 2014 - 05:50PM JST letsberealisticApr. 10, 2014 - 01:53PM JST I think too many assumptions are being made here. You are assuming that the judges made their decision based on whether they felt the research was legitimate or not. You can read the dissenting opinions of the 4 judges here. http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=3&k=64&case=148&code=aj&p3=4 They are indeed saying that JARPA2 research whaling is scientific research and legitimate. Actually, all 16 judges agreed JARPA2 is scientific research. 11judges said that, though JARPA2 is scientific research, it is not for purpose of scientific research. 4 judges disagreed that any scientific research is for purpose of scientific research. 1 judge from China found JARPA is for purpose of scientific research but is not allowed for whatever reason I cannot understand after reading his opinion. The fact almost the entire marine mammal science community poo-pooed Japan's science speaks volumes. Never heard of it. At least, Scientific Commitee of Internatuonal Whaling Commission welcomed JARPA2.

It is overwhelmingly clear that the international scientific and political community believes Japan's JARPA was not scientific.

By a 12 to four vote, the court agreed, finding that Japan had used flawed and nonscientific methods to justify the cull, and had produced little scientific knowledge http://www.sciencemag.org/

Reading a summary of the judgment, the presiding judge, Peter Tomka of Slovakia, said that the latest Japanese program, which was expanded in 2005, had involved the killing of thousands of minke whales and a number of fin whales, but that its “scientific output to date appears limited.” The ruling suggested that Japan’s whaling hunt was based on politics and logistics, rather than science. New York Times

Lastly, although it is true that "the Japanese have provided the data to the IWC," it is also true that almost every year since it began the IWC Scientific Committee has declared - and the Commission itself has accepted - that those data have no relevance to the management of future whaling. sciencemag.org

The Court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with JARPA II are not “for purposes of scientific research” pursuant to Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Convention. INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE press release

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japanese whalers were not sent in old American ships to hunt whales to provide protein.

They were sent to hunt for whale oil to supply the American military and industry, e.g. the automotive industry which used whale oil in its automatic transmission until the 1970s.

Japan did not need protein after war, it could supply sufficient protein of its own and from other easier sources. It needed carbohydrates as the rice crop failed a number of times. Whales are not good or efficient sources of carbohydrate.

I do wish such face saving myths would not keep being repeated ad nauseum. America aggressively opened up Japan for the sake of its utterly exploitive whaling industry in 1850s and then in the 20th demanded Japan hunt for it.

I sort of appreciate the Japanese point of view, about Western schizophrenic bullying, from a historical point of view. However, it would be more in Japan's interests to stop the slaughter altogether.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'm an American and I eat whale meat every chance I get. Can't give it away? Send it my way! It tastes great. Don't knock it til you try it.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

It's an unspeakably cruel kill. You should not be so ignorant, self-centred and insensitive to others suffering.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Eh, "YeahRight", the taste of whale is not the issue here whatsoever. It is not a cuisine issue.

Anyway, give it up, Japan whaling industry. Best photo of the year is the Nisshin Maru returning to port, figuratively with its tail between its legs.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

letsberealisticApr. 10, 2014 - 07:10PM JST

Reading a summary of the judgment, the presiding judge,

Why do not you read the real judgment, rather than a "summary" of the judgment? I gave the link to the real judgment in my previous comment. Do you understand the arguments about the difference between "scientific research" and "activities for purpose of scientific research"? You cannot understand what was going on at ICJ unless you read the judgment and see how judges disagreed on the interpritation of the word "purpose" in the convention.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

LOL their target was over 900 IIRC. Thanks to Sea shepherd and the ICJ they got less than a third of it. In fact Sea Shepherd has cut short the hunt and reduced numbers every year they've been in operation. Sorry corrupt government-subsidized failing industries: 'eco-terrorism' works.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japan has made fools of themselves by calling environmentally sound harvesting of marine resources - in line with fishing - for research purposes. Sea Shepard's childish mediastunts probably made it harder for Japan to - for economic reasons - to pull out of this harvest. I wonder if SS will now shift their attention to real environmental issues? Industrial chicken production in Europe or US for example. Wonder if they get the same media coverage?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's not a "harvest of marine resources".

It's a cruel and inhumane slaughter of mammals, a large proportion being pregnant females, in a manner causing such suffering that it which would not be allowed if it was happening on land.

Whales are not inanimate objects.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan intends to continue Antarctic whale hunt with new research program: Sea Shepherd http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-13/japan-planning-to-continue-antarctic-whale-hunt-sea-shepherd/5386550

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

wtfjapan - Japan intends to continue Antarctic whale hunt with new research program

Sounds like more lies from the eco-terrorist SS. Has any reliable or honest organization backed up their tale?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

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