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Japan's whaling effort might be significantly reduced, but time will tell

March 6, 2009 |  9:00 am

Dead whale lies on deck of a Japanese ship in the northwest Pacific in 2000. Japan is the world's biggest consumer of whale meat.

Japan and whaling. The words are almost synonymous, they've been used together so often lately.

Japan is a whaling nation, despite a moratorium on commercial whaling, and is currently whaling or wrapping up its annual whaling effort in Antarctic waters.

International opposition has not stopped Japan from whaling in the so-called Southern Ocean. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has had some success in disrupting the whale hunt, though not everybody believes what the controversial group's PR office spews out.

Regardless, Japan is still whaling, using a research loophole in the 1986 moratorium.

But there might be some good news for marine mammal enthusiasts who claim whales are too intelligent and embattled to be slaughtered for so-called research or human consumption (Japan is the world's largest consumer of whale meat).

Australia's Daily Telegraph, quoting a Japanese newspaper, reports that the country is considering reducing its annual kill of nearly 1,000 whales by several hundred whales.

Its proposal might be submitted during an International Whaling Commission meeting next week, although a Japanese fisheries ministry official declined to comment on the issue.

Has Japan finally succumbed to so much opposition? If it's ever put that way, the nation will increase its effort. But maybe, just maybe, Japan and whaling will move closer toward parting ways.

--Pete Thomas

Photo: Dead whale lies on deck of a Japanese ship in the northwest Pacific in 2000. Japan is the world's biggest consumer of whale meat. Credit: Reuters

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