4 min read

Japan To Target Minke Whales Despite International Ban

<p>Flickr/Martin Cathrae</p>

Japan continues to forge ahead with its plans for Antarctic whaling, despite an international court ruling that ordered the program to halt. A Japanese official said Wednesday that the country will target minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean next year, reports AFP.

The news comes after the International Court of Justice ruled in March against the whaling program, which proponents say is for "scientific research." The ruling called the hunts "unscientific," saying that Japan failed to justify a scientific rationale for their minke whale catch.

According to the Japanese fisheries official, the planned hunts will collect "data necessary to calculate the number of whale catch allowed (once commercial whaling resumes)," and "construct a model of the Antarctic Ocean ecosystem."

Under a loophole in the International Whaling Commission's 1986 global moratorium on whaling, the country hunts 850 minke whales and up to 50 endangered fin whales alone during its Antarctic "research" hunts, also known as JARPA II.

The minke whale quota has not yet been announced, but previous quotas have been set at about 935 individuals. While common minke whales are listed as "least concern" under the IUCN Red List, the species targeted by whalers is actually the Antarctic minke whale, Balaenoptera bonaerensis. This species is classified as "data deficient" - meaning that not enough is known to assess how at risk of extinction the population could be. While the need more more data is essential, there are non-lethal means to study whales - conducting population surveys in the field is often the preferred way that scientists gain information on different species in the decades after whaling's heyday.

[rebelmouse-campaign #StopWhaling title="Add your voice: Demand that whaling nations comply to the global moratorium and put an end to whaling." theme="sidebar" total="supporters have shared their voice." cta="Sign Now" pastCta="Signed" sendButton="Sign" why="Add your voice: Demand that whaling nations comply to the global moratorium and put an end to whaling." addPost="Post Now!" shareText="Japan to target minke whales despite international ban {{link}} #StopWhaling"]