A Japanese whaling fleet recently set sail amidst much local fanfare, but Greenpeace is yet again determined to interfere with the hunt by placing themselves in between the whales and the Japanese harpoons. Unlike some other whaling protest groups, Greenpeace relies strictly on peaceful non-violent protesting despite the Japanese government labeling them “dangerous animal rights terrorists.”
A dangerous terrorist act by Greenpeace.
Furthermore, the Japanese government states that the hunt is allowable, despite a long-standing moratorium against whaling by the International Whaling Commission, because the purpose of the hunt is *cough* “scientific research.” Specifically, they are claiming to be collecting evidence about the age and mortality of whales in order to model populations. Yet, conveniently, whale meat from whales slaughtered under the guise of research makes its way to market, to be consumed by people. As Greenpeace marine biologist Carly Thomas states, “Any credible scientists knows you don’t need to kill a whale to study it…they shoot a grenade-tipped harpoon into a whale, that kills it, and that’s the only result they can claim to study. Its all just a sham.”
The International Whaling Commission itself expressed grave concerns about Japan’s activities at its meeting in June 2007:
A majority of the commission–with Japan and its allies not participating–approved a resolution that expresses “deep concern at [Japan's] continuing lethal research” and states that the program does “not address critically important research needs.” Delegates from several nations delivered far harsher words: “The practice of scientific whaling by Japan flies in the face of the whole purpose of this convention and demeans the IWC,” charged Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s deputy commissioner and a member of parliament. “Show goodwill toward the people of Australia, and drop the humpbacks if not the program itself,” he asked in an appeal echoed by others.
Australia’s request was based “on emotion, not science,” responded Joji Morishita, a deputy commissioner from Japan. “We are proud of our scientific program and its achievements,” he said, noting that the hunts will go ahead as planned for the winter of 2007-08. The IWC has no authority to force Japan to curb research whale hunts, which require only a “special permit” issued by the Japanese government itself.
Japan has stated the intention to kill over 1000 whales, including 50 endangered humpback whales. Humpback whales at one time teetered on extinction, although since the whaling moratorium in 1966 their numbers have slowly increased to about 40,000 worldwide (but only 2,000 are in the waters around Japan). In regards to the pre-moratorium excessive whaling of the humpback whale, Phil Clapham, a scientist at the Smithsonian Institute, said “This wanton destruction of some of the earth’s most magnificent creatures [is] one of the greatest of our many environmental crimes.” These whales are staples for whale-watchers, a thriving eco-tourism activity, and this is the first year they are being hunted since 1966. The resumption of humpback whaling may negatively impact whale-watching activities as the humpbacks will be nervous and evasive around human vessels.
The Japanese also slaughter thousands of live dolphins (if you can stomach the extreme abuse, look for videos of their killing methods on YouTube), also for human consumption.
The dolphins are intercepted along the migration route and driven into a cove by fishermen banging metal rods to frighten and confuse them. Fear is said to affect the quality and taste of the meat – so they are left hanging up by the neck overnight before being butchered the next morning.
Ric O’Barry, a former US Navy SEAL, now heads Save The Japan Dolphins. He’s been protesting against the hunt for the past five years.”It’s hard to believe that this is taking place in this time and age. It’s so brutal and cruel, you wonder why the world is not doing something,” he said. Many Japanese fishermen believe dolphins should be treated like any other fish.
Killing cetaceans under the auspices of scientific research, without any standards of a humane death and selling the meat to market, is dishonest and stands against everything that is progressive and positive about science. Its egg on all our faces that real scientists don’t do more to see it end.