Japan’s 2016 Minke Whale Hunt Just Finished — Let’s Talk About The Future

03.26.16 2 years ago 10 Comments
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Last year we discussed Japan’s proposed minke whale hunt. We looked into considerations of culture, transparency, and sustainability, and we weren’t the only ones. Japan faced considerable backlash from the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Britain; all countries that have agreed to uphold the International Whaling Commission’s moratorium on commercial whaling, which has been in place since 1986.

Why was this sanction put in place? According to the IWC itself, it was due to “uncertainty in whale numbers.” In other words, the IWC and the scientific minds behind it were uncomfortable with the amount of whales being taken from the ocean, and were uncertain that their populations could sustain the continued pressure of commercial hunting. It’s telling that the moratorium hasn’t been lifted in the 30 years since it was set.

Despite this moratorium, Japan set sail last December for their whale hunt, which they run under a scientific exemption — special permits to kill, take, and treat whales for scientific research, (more on that later). They’ve since returned, bringing with them a haul of 333 minke whales, representing a significant increase over the 2014 hunt, which brought in 252 whales. Digging a little deeper into those numbers, we find that 230 of the whales taken this year were female; 90 percent of those female minkes were pregnant.

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