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Japanese ships leave for whale hunt off northeastern coast

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Year after year all I hear is research on whales. The researchers must be dumb if the couldn't find what they are looking for after all these years.

-13 ( +14 / -27 )

Will they test the whales for radiation contamination?

2 ( +16 / -14 )

Another stupid way of squandering taxpayers' money

-9 ( +12 / -21 )

I'm surprised after 30 odd years of research and so many peer reviewed scientific papers published, that a definitive announcement can't be made re the commencement of commercial whaling.

One can only presume that advanced research skills are horribly lacking  -  or that the plan is to continue research whaling, as it supplies enough carcasses to meet demand so there is no desire to halt the research.

Whale stomach analysis is not rocket science. Any lower tiered university science lab can manage that and produce data results in under 30 years.

So when will it end?

-12 ( +9 / -21 )

Good to hear that commercial whaling is likely just around the corner. Well done to the researchers for their perseverance!

3 ( +17 / -14 )

When I was on JET back in the day, we had a 'Whale Cook-off' at the beach with our BBQ grills off to the side at a JET event. Some big, hefty infuriated Canadian woman with short purple hair came bounding over and kicked all our grills over into the sand and grabbed my British buddy by the throat when he mouthed off to her.

We laughed so hard we couldn't breath and she got even more mad. A bunch of 'reasonable' people had to come calm her down.

12 ( +21 / -9 )

browny1Today 11:07 am JST

I'm surprised after 30 odd years of research and so many peer reviewed scientific papers published, that a definitive announcement can't be made re the commencement of commercial whaling.

The anti-whaling movement has been active within the IWC since about 1977, and the 1986 Moratorium on commercial whaling was implemented without the recommendation of the IWC Scientific Committee. Canada even left the IWC over this issue. Since the Moratorium went into effect the anti-whaling faction has and continue to do whatever possible to ensure that it never gets lifted. This includes resisting any efforts by Japan to submit data to the IWC Scientific Committee that may lead to a resumption of commercial whaling. While some species remain "endangered" some species do not, and even anti-whaling nations like the U.S. have admitted that the Minkes have become very abundant. But as long as the IWC remains in a political gridlock, the Moratorium (which was originally supposed to be temporary) will probably never be lifted.

14 ( +23 / -9 )

Nothing wrong with the Japanese whaling off their own country's coast, especially if they're hunting ubiquitous minke whale. It's another story when they go to the southern ocean and hunt blue whale though. I found blue whale on the menu at my local sushi restaurant a while back. Pretty despicable.

-17 ( +5 / -22 )

It is clear to most that Japan has never halted commercial whale hunting. Changing the name to "Scientific research" fools nobody. Japan kills more than it can eat now anyway so why bother changing the name back to "Commercial whaling"? The Idea of killing even more whales that will never be consumed, just for the sake of it, is terribly confusing.

Spend money on the fleet. Spend money on wages. Spend money on keeping uneaten meat frozen. Spend money on continually increasing stocks of frozen whale meat until you need to either throw it away or increase your freezer capacity to hold more uneaten meat. I just dont get it. Is this all just a way to keep a dead industry afloat? Surely the best option is to retrain in other industries that have a future and let whaling die out as another anachronistic industry past its use by date. Or do some people just hate whales so much they want to kill them all?

-15 ( +7 / -22 )

Good for Japan.

Their country, their culture.

13 ( +21 / -8 )

Great links! I'm gonna tweet them and put them on my facebook account. Thanks

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

Perhaps they should do more research into how detrimental whaling is to Japan's international image. I suspect the whole thing has really got very little to do with traditions or even eating whale meat for that matter. I believe the politicians and business people involved are corrupt. Little brown envelopes, political favors, seniority and amakudari is why this charade continues. You'd think the public would demand accountability but that's not really a Japanese tradition either.

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

Ossan - thank you for that.

A question - How exactly are Japan's efforts to submit scientific documents "resisted"? Is there a boycott or are they being ignored or are there people actually threatening Japan (whaling inc) if they submit data to the IWC?

Interested to know, because 30 years is a hell of a time to be researching a pretty easy field.

If it's as you suggest and they're being blocked, why don't they go to UN or World Court or Interpol etc if it's illegal?

-19 ( +3 / -22 )

Japan could never afford commercial whaling, even with subsidized "research" whaling the price per kilo is ¥2500-¥10000. The recent announcement by the central government to fund a ¥100 million study on whether to replace the privately owned Nisshin Maru factory ship which was refitted at public cost a few years back.

Japan could just leave the IWC and resume whaling without the taxpayer subsidies but the price of the bacon will be sky high. At least it would be more honest.

About 10 years ago, the annual consumption was about 5,000 tons but now down to less than 2,500 tons, which works out at less than 20 grams/person/year.

Still, got to keep this ye o'le tradition going just like banning women from the sumo ring.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Oh joy. More whale meat that nobody wants to eat! smh

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

We know that their stomachs are full of plastic detritus......

1 ( +4 / -3 )

We know that their stomachs are full of plastic detritus......

Micro plastic in fish and other sea creatures, even like shrimps, are becoming a major problem with massive amount of all types of discarded plastics, which have grown into a waste island in the Pacific larger than the whole of Japan, which is also killing them. But the problem is also with domestic farm animals with micro plastics in the water systems. We have really messed up this once beautiful planet and shown no respect that which gives us life.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Japan could just leave the IWC and resume whaling without the taxpayer subsidies but the price of the bacon will be sky high. At least it would be more honest.

That's what they should do - the IWC moratorium was a big scam - how long do you need a moratorium when everyone knows that for years now there are plenty of minke whales at least that can (and are) be caught on a sustainable basis.

The IWC ought give Japan a quota immediately. That would be the honest thing to do.

Japan is just too weak to say up yours to an international organization, even though the IWC is clearly a scam now intended only to prevent whaling, rather than safely manage it.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Good to hear that commercial whaling is likely just around the corner. Japan never stopped commercial whaling , all there trying to do is make it open season again so the can hunt 1000s of them every year making it economically viable as pet food.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

So when will it end?

When the research funds run out, same as with any other research.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The researchers must be dumb if the couldn't find what they are looking for after all these years.

> that a definitive announcement can't be made re the commencement of commercial whaling.

One can only presume that advanced research skills are horribly lacking

The researchers believe they have found what they are looking for and that commercial whaling can be commenced. BUT the researchers aren't the ones that make the final decision, that is the IWC. And the main body of the IWC refuses to even review the data, despite the fact that the whaling moratorium required a review in 1990 and every 10 years thereafter. Meanwhile the IWC Scientific Committee keeps saying they don't have enough data to produce whale species population assessments, the first step in removal from moratorium protection. So if a country was trying to provide research to support the lifting of the moratorium their only choice would be to continue to collect more data every year at least until a review by the IWC is done.

when they go to the southern ocean and hunt blue whale though

Good thing they don't go to the southern ocean and hunt blue whales then.

If it's as you suggest and they're being blocked, why don't they go to UN or World Court or Interpol etc if it's illegal?

Because the UN and World Court and Interpol (do you even understand what Interpol's job is?) have no jurisdiction over the IWC. Also I don't see where anyone said the IWC's actions were illegal.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

@oldman_13 - Good for Japan. Their country, their culture.

Yeah, it's is their country and their culture, but the oceans and the whales belong to the whole world, not to one selfish little island of a few thousand people who eat whales meat. I've said many times before, the only reason there are large stocks of minke whales is because of the 150 or so countries who stopped hunting them in the mid-70's. Now, Japan believes it has the right to plunder them for profit without compensating the countries who contributed to created this plunderable resource. Wouldn't that be considered piracy? Yes, this hunt is in some-what local waters around Japan, but the numbers they expect to catch are very low. Why do you think that is? It's because the number of whales is still very low, of course.

Oh, and just to clear up the blue whale thing. Japan did not hunt the blue whale. They bought the meat from Iceland, who do hunt the blue whale, which is still on the endangered list, of course. However, it didn't stop Japan from buying the meat to win favor and support from Iceland. The sad thing is, this sale was over three years ago. The Japanese bought 5 tons of mixed whale meat from Iceland in 2015 when the International Court ruled their research hunting to be a farce. That's how long it has taken to sell it regardless of the fact that, nutritionists recommend meats should not be consumed after being frozen for more than three months. Enjoy your frozen whale meat people. It tastes so good because all the nutrition and flavor has been frozen out of it. You are eating bloody water!

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Non voyage to the crew and We wish for them a bountiful harvest and a joyful safe journey.

A truly beautiful day for Japan and for whale population management. Japanese society has a rich history and tradition of harvesting whales for nutritional purposes and for gaining myriad useful substances and minerals.

Whale harvesting is a classic and manly form of agriculture and animal harvesting. Jack London and Herman Melville codified the majestic nature of whale harvesting and the manly courage and skill involved in harvesting whales. Whale meat is delicious and nutritious and was the traditional lunch entree for all Japanese school children and adolescents for nearly a century. Whale meat should be brought back to school lunches and snacks for Japanese school students.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

th previous post should have read Bon Voyage. Typo correction.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

They bought the meat from Iceland, who do hunt the blue whale, which is still on the endangered list, of course. 

I think you'll find that the whale imported from Iceland was Fin whale and not Blue whale. But even the company in Iceland has exported the Fin whale for a couple of years because of the costs and hassles on the way. Icelanders don't even eat Fun whale and only Minke whales which these days are more consumed by tourists than nationals.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Mike O - thanks for the astute observations - Interpol lol. Good to see someone appreciated my dash of cynicism and not just the whaley trolls.

And sorry in all sincerity I can't follow clearly your points re refusing to review the data. That's what i was asking of Ossan but he didn't / couldn't reply.

Are you saying they - IWC - can't review because there isn't enough data? Is that their official statement?

And if that is correct that probably means there will never be enough data, because 10,000s of kills over 30 years isn't cutting it.  Which means this is all the fault of the IWC for wanting more kills than appears to be possible at the moment.

All seems a bit confusing. Kinda Yossarian-esque really. Spooky!

But I am genuinely looking forward to the day when this whole messy business (Blubber & Guts aside nudge, nudge) and either the moratorium is forever - or the whalers can go back to their ancient tradition of factory whaling in the south pole to garner enough protein for a needy population.

I don't mind as long as it's soon.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

No one is hunting blue whales anymore, where do you people come up with that stuff?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Ko

Japanese society has a rich history and tradition of harvesting whales for nutritional purposes and for gaining myriad useful substances and minerals.

Do you have any explanation for why more than 50% of the Japanese people don't agree with you and don't even eat any whale flesh?

Whale meat should be brought back to school lunches and snacks for Japanese school students.

So you agree then that even schools no longer eat whale.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Are you saying they - IWC - can't review because there isn't enough data? Is that their official statement?

The IWC is just a bunch of bureaucrats sent there by their home politicians from whom they take orders.

Irrespective of the scientific data, you will never see the Australian PM for example saying, ‘yeah go ahead and review the data and agree to lift the moratorium if the data suggests it’s all good’. Australia is against whaling no matter what the science says. Same for lots of those countries that oppose it. They have no constituency for whaling, but a constituency that is against it, so that’s the stance they take.

The moratorium would be gone long ago if it were a purely scientific decision.

It continues because of politics.

Here is a Q and A with one of the IWC scientists from years ago:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5103378.stm

He says that they have a method to decide safe numbers of whales to catch, and that is accepted. But he diplomatically notes that the IWC had found excuses not to put it into practice.

That article was from a decade ago, and the IWC still hasn’t put it into practice. Twelve years to figure it out but low and behold it hasn’t been done. Go figure.

Total charade. Japan is not obligated to do what some greeny hippie group minorities in foreign places would like, it should stick up for itself and play hard ball by quitting the IWC.

Just catch a limited number of whales along the lines of what the IWC scientists would permit anyway, plus threaten to catch a dozen more, and then see if the IWC is prepared to negotiate. If not, go ahead; if they play ball, the moratorium is lifted. Japan can only win either way, but is too weak to do it. The Icelanders and Norwegians have shown this, few think less of them. As someone else was saying it’s the tourists eating whales in Iceland.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Sperm whale found dead on the Spanish coast was killed after swallowing 64lbs of PLASTIC waste including bags, nets, ropes and a jerry can

1 ( +3 / -2 )

fxgai - thankyou for that. A more coherent answer appreciated.

Although the link is 12 years old, I'm assuming there has been little change over the past decade or so.

So the problem seems to be one of the IWC not playing ball, by accepting the data that says whale numbers have increased so they can be now hunted commercially. By saying the data is insufficient, they are intentionally(?) it seems, to be prolonging the research status of the Japanese Whaling campaign. All appears mystifying.

Why would they do that? I can only think of :

the Anti-Whaling govts apply pressure to the IWC not to acquiesce.

 the IWC actually hate the whaling industry and will never give in to Japan Whaling's demands to open the seas to commercial whaling, so just prolong the process ad infinitum.

they are in collusion with the whaling industry - playing both sides, by appearing to be defiant / tough to Whaling Inc for the world media, while surreptitiously allowing an ongoing "minimal catch" which actually is enough to meet commercial demands.

or....any other suggestions? (please not incl racist, cultural imperialist etc..they've been done done)

All intriguing so I stand by my earlier, so Yossarian-esque comment, although there's a splash of Kafka in there too.

Curiouser & Curiouser.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Japan leaving the IWC isn't a Brexit. It can just leave without penalty. If it does not agree with the IWC then why stay?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

the only reason there are large stocks of minke whales is because of the 150 or so countries who stopped hunting them in the mid-70's.

In the 70's Minke's weren't being hunted by 150 countries. In fact I don't think that a total of 150 countries ever hunted whales in the history of the planet.

The IWC has never had more than 90 members and in the 70's they had less than 20 members and 4 of those joined in 1979.

for profit without compensating the countries who contributed to created this plunderable resource

Well that is the way international waters and the resources in them work.

Wouldn't that be considered piracy?

No, it wouldn't.

Are you saying they - IWC - can't review because there isn't enough data? Is that their official statement?

No, I am saying the IWC refuses to review the data. Japan, as required by the regulations, gives all their data to the IWC. The IWC is required by the moratorium to review species status every ten years. They have not conducted a single review of any species Japan hunts despite the moratorium being 30 years old.

The IWC as a whole doesn't make any official statement about the reviews, they completely ignore the issue. Meanwhile the IWC Scientific Committee does not issue new population estimates for most species claiming insufficient data.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The IWC is required by the moratorium to review species status every ten years. They have not conducted a single review of any species Japan hunts despite the moratorium being 30 years old.

Yep. From the moratorium:

Notwithstanding the other provisions of paragraph 10, catch limits for the killing for commercial purposes of whales from all stocks for the 1986 coastal and the 1985/86 pelagic seasons and thereafter shall be zero. This provision will be kept under review, based upon the best scientific advice, and by 1990 at the latest the Commission will undertake a comprehensive assessment of the effects of this decision on whale stocks and consider modification of this provision and the establishment of other catch limits.[17]

The review that was supposed to be undertaken in 1990 has never happened. Until it does, we cannot know actual whale stocks.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

we cannot know actual whale stocks.

Actually, under the IWC scientific procedures, it is not even necessary to know actual whale stocks.

This sounds crazy at first glance, but the reason it can be that way is because modern procedures for deciding how much/many can be caught, are designed to be robust to various uncertainties in such knowledge.

Once of the implications is that catch limits have to be very conservative initially, and only increased as better knowledge is obtained.

This "factoring uncertainty into management advice" talk goes into this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_Q6jvffqnc

It's clear today that a safe number of whales could be caught, and what the Japanese research appears to be aimed at is producing better information, so that uncertainties are decreased and thus catches could be a little higher.

But that's all just science, it's all for nothing as the IWC refuses to over-turn the outdated moratorium, while Japan's leaders just suck it up and elect not to play hard ball on this matter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

while Japan's leaders just suck it up and elect not to play hard ball on this matter.

Well, there really isn't any hard ball option. The IWC has no mechanism to allow a member country to force the IWC to meet its obligations. And there isn't any international court that has jurisdiction.

Japan really only has 3 options.

1) Let things continue as they are and keep research whaling 2) Give up and stop whaling 3) Quit the IWC
0 ( +0 / -0 )

Quit the IWC is what I have in mind, cut to the chase. Then see if the IWC wants to do its job or just leave the Japanese to it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Then see if the IWC wants to do its job or just leave the Japanese to it.

I don't understand. If japan quits the IWC then why would that prompt the IWC to do its job? And why would Japan care anymore?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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