Will ‘Scientific’ Whaling Continue in Antarctica?

Written by on July 5, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law, Whales & Dolphins

UPDATE — Japan says Australia is on a “civilizing mission and moral crusade” that does not have a place in the modern world. An expert witness for Japan says even though it is possible to obtain genetic information about whales from biopsy samples, “it’s much more easy” to obtain that information by killing the whale. Check back for more updates throughout the week.

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

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

Continuing this week is the legal battle between Australia and Japan over whaling in the Antarctic. So, what do you need to know about this court case?

Australia took Japan to the International Court of Justice last Wednesday, June 26 over the hunting of whales in the Southern Ocean, which was declared a whale sanctuary by Australia back in 1999. The hearing will end on July 16. A decision is expected to be made by the end of this year and certainly before the start of the next whaling season.

Japan has killed more than 10,000 whales since commercial whaling was banned worldwide under the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium in 1986. The Japanese government has a quota of 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales that they catch and kill for “scientific” research.

Japan believes it has a strong case because, regardless of how people feel about the idea of “scientific whaling,” it does comply with the IWC.

Australia, New Zealand and other opponents believe that the so-called scientific whaling is just a front for commercial whaling. They also say that scientific research on migration, reproduction and other habits can be studied more effectively without killing any whales.

Some conservationists, however, say that the government’s battle against Japanese whaling has come at the expense of bluefin tuna. The government has invested more than $20 million in this case but has completely ignored southern and northern pacific species of bluefin tuna which are on the brink of collapse.

Are we so focused on the fight against whaling because we care about whales, or because Japan has a hidden political agenda? Check out this piece from ABC to find out what experts are saying.

To learn more, read some of these articles:

Minke whale in Antarctic waters.

Minke whale in Antarctic waters. Photo credit: ravas51 via photopin cc.

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 MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. She is also a PADI diver and dog lover. .

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