Yamaguchi — Japan has been under international scrutiny after the country embarked today on a whaling trip in the Antarctic, which they claim to be for scientific purposes. The country is going against the 2014 ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as it prohibited the practice of whale hunting, stating that it didn’t qualify as scientific.
The four ships — leader research ship Nisshin Maru and other three — parted from the Shimonoseki port in the Yamaguchi prefecture and its mission contemplates the killing of 333 minke whales, which the Japanese say to be crucial for gathering data about the animal’s maturing ages.
“Through capturing whales for investigation, Japan is collecting the scientific data and aiming for the resumption of commercial whaling. This official government view doesn’t change,” said Hideki Moronuki, senior negotiator from Japan’s Fishery Agency in an interview with CNN.
Meanwhile, countries like New Zealand and Australia have shown a strong disagreement with Japan’s whaling practices. Todd McClay, Foreign Minister of New Zealand, stated that his country was completely against whaling in the Southern Ocean and called the Asian nation to abide by last year’s ICJ ruling.
Greg Hunt, Australian Environment Minister, also joined the opposition, saying that Australia didn’t accept the killing of whales in “any way, shape or form,” not even for supposed scientific research. Australian Greenpeace member Nathaniel Pelle argued that it wasn’t for scientific investigation, but “straight-up commercial whaling” instead.
Japan already had their whaling attempts hindered back in March when the ICJ stopped the country’s JARPA II research program, which was also for alleged scientific research about the Antarctic ecosystem. The court’s ruling stated that Japan was to revoke any authorization, present or further, to pursue the program.
Facing the legal obstruction of JARPA II, the country came up with NEWREP-A, another program planned to last 12 years, which aims for the killing of 333 minke whales per year — the count would go up to 4,000 whales throughout the project. Advocates defend the enterprise saying that there is no other way than the lethal method to obtain age data necessary to estimate the whales’ age at sexual maturity.
Sea Shepherd, a marine conservation organization, strongly criticizes whale hunting activities and have threatened the Japanese government with intervening if they come across with what they consider a criminal activity, going by International and Australian law, as the organization’s CEO, Alex Cornelissen, stated.
The current expedition is scheduled to end in March of next year.