Japan vows to keep whale hunt after activist clash

Feb 21, 2013 by Kyoko Hasegawa
This handout picture taken by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) on February 20, 2013 shows the environmental group's ship Sea Shepherd (L) steering its bow between an oil supply ship (R) and Japan's whaling ship Nisshin Maru (not pictured), in the Southern Ocean. Japan vowed to continue its whale hunt after the clashes.

Japan vowed to continue its whale hunt in the Southern Ocean after clashes with the militant conservationist Sea Shepherd group, which claimed Tokyo had been forced to end the mission.

"We are keeping our whaling programme," an official at Japan's Fisheries Agency told AFP on Thursday, denying a report that Japan was forced to suspend its whale hunt after collisions with boats crewed by anti-whaling campaigners.

The official also repeated Tokyo's claim that the conservationists had rammed Japanese whaling ship the Nisshin Maru on Wednesday, their worst confrontation in the in three years.

On Wednesday, the anti-whaling group—which earlier this month lost a battle at the over an order to steer clear of Japan's whaling fleet—accused the Japanese side of deliberately colliding with its vessels.

Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson told the Australian Associated Press news agency that the whalers were refuelling at sea in an area where such activities are prohibited by an .

"I feel that this is the end of it," he was quoted as saying, pointing to the 18 days remaining in the short whaling season and deriding the Japanese fleet's moves as "like a case of road rage".

This picture taken by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) on February 20, 2013 shows the environmental group ship Sea Shepherd sandwiched between an oil supply ship (R) and Japan's whaling vessel Nisshin Maru (L) in the Southern Ocean. The conservationist group accused the Japanese side of deliberately colliding with its vessels.

A spokesman for Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research said Thursday that the ship could not be refuelled "due to Sea Shepherd's dangerous activities".

Sea Shepherd is chasing the Japanese fleet hunting off Antarctica, as it has done for years in a bid to harass the whalers and prevent the mammals being slaughtered.

Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke has described Japan's whale hunt as cruel and unnecessary but has so far rejected calls to send an Australian government vessel to monitor the hunt.

Japan claims it conducts vital scientific research using a loophole in an international ban on whaling agreed at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), but makes no secret of the fact that the mammals ultimately end up on dinner plates.

Japan defends whaling as a tradition and accuses Western critics of disrespecting its culture. Norway and Iceland are the only nations that hunt whales in open defiance of a 1986 IWC moratorium on commercial whaling.

Sea Shepherd founder Watson is wanted by Interpol after skipping bail last July in Germany, where he was arrested on Costa Rican charges relating to a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002.

Canadian Watson stepped down from key roles last month, passing the Antarctic harpoon chase mantle to former Australian politician Bob Brown.

Watson's whereabouts had been a mystery until December, when he confirmed that he was back on board a Sea Shepherd vessel and ready for the group's annual Southern Ocean expedition against the Japanese .

Anti-whaling Australia launched legal action challenging the basis of Japan's so-called "scientific" hunt in December 2010.

The court will now set the case down for a hearing in The Hague with Canberra anticipating it will be listed for the latter half of 2013.

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alfie_null
4 / 5 (4) Feb 21, 2013
Japan claims it conducts vital scientific research

What have they discovered? Over all these years, surely something. Papers presented or published?
danny_o
3 / 5 (2) Feb 21, 2013
The Japanese used to behead convicted criminals as tradition. Times change, they better adjust. These mammals look more an more sentient, the more we research them. That is real research...
cdt
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 22, 2013
The American bias in comments on whaling articles is overwhelming. Cows are fairly sentient too, and yet I'm sure danny o will not be using that as the basis of an argument against slaughtering them for food. And while the Japanese certainly can be justly accused of having over-hunted whales in the past, their current practices are sustainable by any measure. The bias against hunting whales is nothing more than sentimentality, a sentimentality that isn't shared for other species like deer, moose, elk, squirrels, bass, trout or boar, let alone cows, pigs and chickens.
ValeriaT
5 / 5 (2) Feb 23, 2013
The problem is not about sentience of whales, but about the risk we decimate them. The endangered species are storage of precious genetic information, which may serve the human civilization for future. For example, the whales, despite they're long living creatures don't suffer with cancer in similar way, like the sharks and another marine animals. It deals just with the species, which are most endangered with whaling. But the imbecile Japanese instead of research will eat them in their luxury restaurants (which most of ordinary Japanese cannot afford anyway) because of their "tradition". It's just plane ruthlessness and I will consider it, when Japanese will start to fight for Diaoyu islands with China.
cdt
1 / 5 (2) Feb 23, 2013
VT, do you have any idea how many whales the Japanese hunt every year, or what species they do and do not hunt? Do you know what the total populations of these whales are and what effect the hunting has on those populations? Try looking at the numbers sometime. It is estimated there are just under 1 million Minke whales in the oceans, for example, and that culling 2000 a year would have virtually no adverse effect on that population. Japan has taken closer to 500 a year on average since 1988. And whale meat is not generally a luxury item in Japan, probably largely due to the fact that it doesn't really taste all that good to most people. At best it's a novelty item for the young. Try checking facts next time before posting. It can save you from making absurd claims.
ValeriaT
5 / 5 (2) Feb 23, 2013
how many whales the Japanese hunt every year
Per capita in comparison with Chinese, Rusia or India? Hell, still lotta them. Best of all, as whale meat is in general heavily contaminated by mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, it constitutes a health risk. Thus children and pregnant women are advised to refrain from eating whale meat. It's not even healthy.
cdt
1 / 5 (2) Feb 24, 2013
I'm not clear what the per capita comparison is for in the context of the argument you originally made about the risk of decimation, and even less clear what the contamination observation is meant for in that context. Yes there are health concerns about eating whale meat, as there are about eating tuna. And China Russia and India hunt fewer whales than the Japanese, but I don't see any clear evidence that China or India ever had much of a history of whaling or any interest in increasing the numbers of whales they catch. Is your point simply that people would be smarter not to eat whales? Or are you saying that all governments should prohibit eating any food whose excessive consumption could cause a health risk? Or is there some other point that I'm missing.
ValeriaT
5 / 5 (2) Feb 24, 2013
I'm not clear what the per capita comparison is for in the context of the argument you originally made about the risk of decimation
Of course, this is where whole this problem begins. The whales are occurring in the open ocean, which is the common property of all nations. So that all people should participate on its exploitation in equal way. The situation, when the endangered species are on decline and every country is trying to take the largest piece from the fast receding rest (until it has still some chance to do it) indeed doesn't contribute to preservation of biosphere at all.
is your point simply that people would be smarter not to eat whales
The problem is, when the population of species declines bellow some level, it will become more vulnerable to spontaneous extinction, because of crossbreeding, poorer opportunity to find mating partner, greater pressure of predators, etc. The whales come in many species, we should maintain the sufficient number all of them.

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