In the name of ‘scientific research’ the Japanese fleet has recently killed a large number of Minke whales in the Antartic Ocean.
Four ships from the country’s Institute of Cetacean Research returned to their home port after 115-days long expedition capturing 333 whales including more than 200 pregnant females.
Japan has been illegally hunting whales for decades.The Japanese government claimed that this mass slaughter is a part of their ‘scientific research’. They especially targeted female whales to determine the specific age at which Minke whale reach sexual maturity.
Their expedition faced global outrage when International Court of Justice in 2014 clearly stated that Japan’s Antarctic whaling program has no scientific merits and ordered to stop commercialization of whale meat. However, the halt was short-lived and Japan resolved its whaling practices in the breeding season of 2015-16.
The Australian government openly opposed Japan’s decision and also threatened to take legals actions by sending Custom patrol vessel to the Southern Ocean.
The International Whaling Commission- an international body to conserve whale stock- banned commercial whaling in 1986, but scientific research was exempted. Japan has long been accused of taking advantage of this exemption and is aggressively involved in commercial whaling activities.
(With inputs from National Geographic)