Japan Hunts Humpbacks
Posted on Nov 18, 2007
Under the pretense of scientific research, a fleet of Japanese whaling ships is hunting the humpback whale for the first time in decades. The whaling mission plans on killing roughly 1,000 animals in all, including 50 or so humpbacks. While Japanese officials claim the purpose of the mission is to study whale organs, the meat from the animals will be sold commercially.
Japan has lobbied unsuccessfully for years to reverse a moratorium on commercial whaling, and its so-called scientific missions are widely viewed by environmentalists as an attempt to circumnavigate the world community’s general distaste for whaling.
The humpback hunt is the first since a mid-1960s global ban and has drawn strong protests from environmentalists.
Commercial whaling was stopped in 1986 but Japan is permitted whaling in the name of scientific research.
Four whaling ships, including the lead craft Nisshin Maru, set off from the southern port of Shimonoseki on Sunday.
The 239-man mission plans to kill more than 900 minke whales as well as fin whales and humpbacks, in a South Pacific whale hunt that will run until mid-April.
Humpback whales, shown here breaching, were hunted to the brink of extinction before a 1966 moratorium allowed their numbers to partially recover.