November 19, 2008
Japan to Begin Cruel Whale Hunt
The clock is ticking for whales this week as the Japanese ready their harpoons for the five-month long whaling season during which they will kill hundreds of whales in the waters of the Southern Antarctic Ocean -- an IWC-designated whale sanctuary.
Last year, Japan killed 551 minke whales in the Antarctic, well below the country's self-allotted quota. This year Japan plans to kill more than 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales in the sanctuary. There were press statements that Japan, for a number of valid reasons, including lack of market demand for whale meat, was going to reduce its hunt this year by about 20 percent. Japan denied the press reports, saying it had every intention of taking the full quota. In the same week of denying a more moderate stance by reducing its kill quota, Japan announced that it has granted an import license for more than 65 tons of whale meat which has been sitting in customs since it was sent there from Iceland and Norway last summer.
Some of this whale meat will be served in schools and sold to restaurants and other vendors, while most of the meat will go unused and stored in a warehouse in order to keep alive the cruel, unnecessary and outdated practice of killing whales.
"Japan, though bound by the moratorium on commercial whaling passed by the IWC in 1982, continues to kill whales by exploiting a provision in the 1946 International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling that allows a government to kill whales for scientific research," said Kitty Block, vice president for Humane Society International. "By claiming its whaling is for research, Japan has been able to kill more than 15,000 whales since the moratorium was implemented in 1986."
Moreover, studies have shown that much of the whale meat sold in Japanese markets contains high levels of contaminants such methyl mercury. Also, whale meat consumption only became widespread in Japan after World War II, when food was scarce. Now, with risks to both human health and whale populations, there is no need to carry on this inhumane and unnecessary practice that causes the cruel death of hundreds of whales every year, according to HSI.
Humane Society International is the global arm of The Humane Society of the United States — the largest animal protection organization in North America, backed by 10.5 million members and supporters. For more than a half-century, HSUS/HSI have been fighting for the protection of all animals worldwide through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — worldwide. On the web at hsi.org.