Japanese Whaling Ends Early This Year

greenpeace_vessels_esperanza_and_arctic_sunAs we’ve previously covered, Japan conducts an annual whale hunting expedition despite the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling asking that they do not. Japan always insists the whaling is performed for the purposes of “research,” but a lot of whale meat makes it to the seafood market. Protesters argue that Japan’s true purpose in continuing to whale is purely to sell meat and make products from whales, as whale meat is somewhat of a delicacy in Japan.

On February 10th, Japan suspended its whaling early. (The season usually ends in March and there is still the chance that they will resume normal activities.) Japanese officials explained that harassment from protesters, and the subsequent safety concerns, is largely to blame. Japanese whalers are usually stalked by environmental groups. The Sea Shepard Conservation Society is the most prominently known and relentless crew of environmentalists who follow the whalers in their own boats and attempt to sabotage the whaling.

The Sea Shepard Conservation Society’s attacks on the whalers were especially relentless in January. According to reports from the Japan Institute of Cetacean Research published by the Australian paper the Sydney Morning Herald, the Sea Shepard Conservation Society protesters have damaged a propeller on a whaling ship, blocked a whaling ship from refueling on schedule, and have even occupied two of the whaling ships for several weeks each. Voice of America News reports that this season the whalers have caught and killed one hundred whales–eight hundred less than their annual goal of nine hundred.

In a report discussed by Sky News, the Japanese whalers have recorded some of the harassment by the Sea Shepard Conservation Society. At times, the environmentalists shoot flares and high-power water jets at the whalers’ boats. The whalers have been responding in kind. In January 2010, an environmentalist’s boat even sunk after being split in two by whaler attacks.

The Sea Shepard Conservation Society plans to follow the whaling ships until they’re certain that they are indeed headed back to port in Japan.

Are you on the side of the environmentalists or the whalers? Do you think there’s some blame on both sides?

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Tags: commericialized whaling, international whaling commission, japan, japan news, japan whaling, Sea Shepard Conservation Society, whaling, whaling debate