Fri, Jun 01, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Japan whale hunt kills 122 pregnant minkes

AFP, TOKYO

Japan killed 122 pregnant minke whales during a highly controversial annual whaling expedition that Tokyo defends as scientific research, but conservationists call “gruesome and unnecessary.”

The four-month expedition in the Antarctic ended in March after the fleet killed 333 minke whales, a report submitted by Japanese authorities last month to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) said.

Of those, 122 were pregnant, with dozens more immature whales among those killed, the report said.

The figures were “a shocking statistic and sad indictment on the cruelty of Japan’s whale hunt,” the conservationist group Humane Society International said.

“It is further demonstration, if needed, of the truly gruesome and unnecessary nature of whaling operations, especially when non-lethal surveys have been shown to be sufficient for scientific needs,” Humane Society senior program manager Alexia Wellbelove said.

Japan is a signatory to the commission, which has maintained a moratorium on hunting whales since 1986.

However, Tokyo exploits a loophole allowing whales to be killed for “scientific research” and claims it is trying to prove the population is large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting.

It makes no secret of the fact that meat from the expeditions ends up on dinner tables.

The Japanese Fisheries Agency defended the hunt, saying it was not targeting pregnant whales.

“We catch whales totally at random,” said Yuki Morita, an official in charge of whaling at the agency.

“The IWC scientific committee recognizes the number of whales we hunt is at the level that is necessary for research, but not above the level that would hurt the conservation of the stock,” he added.

“We’d like to stress here that the high ratio of pregnant females is noteworthy... This shows there are many mature females, suggesting we can expect growth in resources stock,” he said.

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