Japan has slaughtered 177 whales in its annual hunt in the north-west Pacific Ocean, claiming they were killed for ‘scientific research’.
Three ships, which left port in June, caught 43 minke whales and 134 sei whales in what is a highly controversial practice.
According to The Independent, the country’s fisheries agency said it would collect data on the whales’ stomach contents before reporting its findings to the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
While Japan is a signatory to the IWC’s moratorium on whale hunting, Tokyo exploits a loophole each year by saying its hunt is conducted for scientific research.
Critics say the research is instead a cover for commercial whaling, as the meat from the harpooned mammals is later sold.
Japan’s fisheries agency submitted a plan to the IWC to capture 304 whales per year in the north-western Pacific between the 2017 and 2028 fiscal years.
Japanese whaling vessels return with 43 minke whales and 134 sei whales – catching a total of 177 whales as planned. Image: Peter Duley pic.twitter.com/iqoczsFWuf
— Marine Connection (@MC_org) September 26, 2017
In a statement on the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) website, it reads:
Under the regulations laid out by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international agreement between governments that ensures international trade in specimens of wild animals does not threaten their survival, Japan’s slaughter of Sei whales is illegal.
WDC is hopeful that Japan will be held accountable by CITES at a committee meeting in November.
Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd has sent out ships to obstruct Japanese whaling boats for a number of years, but revealed it would not be involved this year, as it ‘cannot compete with their military grade technology’.