Concern for Whales and Activists as Whaling Season Begins

Written by on January 4, 2013 in Marine Life, Policy & Ocean Law, Whales & Dolphins
The Nisshin Maru.

The Nisshin Maru. Photo credit: wietse? via photopin cc

As the 2012-2013 Southern Ocean whaling season begins, many have expressed their concern for the whales and those protesting the hunt.

Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon made the United Kingdom’s position on whaling very clear in a recent statement.

“Japan’s slaughter of whales, supposedly in the name of science is cruel and scientifically unnecessary. We urge Japan to stop this needless killing,” Benyon said. “It undermines international efforts to conserve and protect whales and goes against the spirit of the International Whaling Commission’s moratorium on commercial whaling.”

“There is absolutely no justification for continued whaling and we will continue to oppose whaling at every possible opportunity,” he continued.

The governments of Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States recently released a joint statement calling for “responsible behavior at sea” during the current whaling season. These governments openly oppose commercial whaling, including the so-called “scientific” whaling. They respect the rights of protestors but condemn any behavior that endangers human lives.

Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke says if this continues, “there simply won’t be a whale left in the ocean.” You can watch the interview with Tony Burke and Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson here. (I’m not including it here because it shows some footage of whales being caught.)

 A Minke whale and her calf are dragged aboard the Nisshin Maru, a Japanese whaling vessel.

A Minke whale and her calf are dragged aboard the Nisshin Maru, a Japanese whaling vessel. the only whaling factory ship. Photo credit: Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

Things to know about whaling:

  • The IWC imposed a complete ban on commercial whaling in 1986–since then over 20,000 whales have been killed
  • Before the ban (1954-1986) only 840 whales were killed in the name of scientific research
  • Japan has created its own quotas–they allow themselves 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales under the guise of “scientific whaling
  • Last year, the hunt was cut short (mostly due to the efforts of activists like Sea Shepherds) but the Japanese fleet still killed 266 minke whales and one fin whale
  • 75% of meat from last season’s catch wasn’t sold

To learn more about whaling, check out these links:

Minke whale.

Minke whale. Photo credit: NOAA/NMFS.

Fin whale.

Fin whale. Photo credit: Lori Mazzuca, AFSC/Kodiak, NOAA.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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