Anti-whaling ships drive Japanese whalers from Antarctica
The suspension of the Antarctic whale hunt by Japanese ships comes amid intense anti-whaling harassment. A global whaling moratorium hasn’t stopped Japan from whaling as it contends that the practice continues for the purpose of science. But consistent harassment from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Japan’s waning appetite for whale meat could end Japanese whaling in Antarctica for good.
Anti-whaling harassment ends up being a good thing
Last week, the Japanese whaling ship Nisshin Maru entered the Antarctica whaling zone. It was being followed by a Sea Shepherd-owned anti-whaling ship named Bob Barker. Because of Sea Shepherd attacks that have been dangerous for whaling crews, the annual Antarctic whale hunt was suspended, according to a statement made Wednesday by Japan’s Fisheries Agency. Whaling usually goes to mid-March in the Antarctic. Japan’s official reason for aborting the whale hunt is safety concerns, but fuel may be a more relevant issue. Japanese whalers have been forced to change their routes because of Sea Shepherd vessels during the whale hunt this year. Sea Shepherd is the organization featured on Animal Planet’s popular series Whale Wars.
This season, Japanese whalers have had to deal with a lot. The anti-whaler activists have been gone from annoying to dangerous. The day before Japan suspended the Antarctic whale hunt, the captain of one of the Sea Shepherd ships said the anti-whalers launched stink bombs and tossed rotten butter onto the decks of Japanese ships. Japan had planned to kill about 1,000 whales this season. Only 30 to 100 whales have been killed, though, since December when the Japanese whaling fleet got to the Antarctic. Sea Shepherd leaders say the 2010-11 anti-whaling campaign has been the most successful since the U.S.-based group started harassing the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctica seven years ago.
Japan focused on as a target
Japanese whaling in the Antarctic is something that Chile, Australia and New Zealand governments want to end. Furthermore, demand for whale meat in Japan has greatly decreased. Warehouses have thousands of pounds of meat waiting to be sold. Yet the heavily subsidized Japanese whaling industry has killed an estimated 10,000 animals in Antarctica’s internationally recognized whale sanctuary “for research purposes” since the global whaling moratorium was enacted 26 years ago.