Japan Cuts Whaling Season Short

The Japanese whaling vessel Kyo Maru No. 1 on a whale hunt in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary.

Courtesy of IFAW

The Japanese whaling fleet is leaving the internationally recognized Southern Ocean Sanctuary around Antarctica, where crew members have killed approximately 10,000 Antarctic whales during the last 23 years.

Despite a global ban on commercial whaling, Japanese ships arrived in the sanctuary last November with intentions of harpooning more than 1,000 whales in the name of "scientific research." Now, the fleet is heading back to port with less than half that quota, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

"Under pressure from all fronts the Japanese whaling fleet is apparently withdrawing early this season from the internationally recognized sanctuary around Antarctica," says Patrick Ramage, Director of the IFAW's Global Whale Programme. Although Japan has not released any official confirmation of events, The Courier reports ships are heading toward the Drake Passage below South America.

"We hope this is a first sign of Japanese government decision makers recognizing there is no future for whaling in the 21st century," Ramage says. "Responsible whale watching, the only genuinely sustainable use of whales, is now the best way forward for a great nation like Japan."

--Whitney Dreier

Filed To: Politics / Science
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