Japanese Fleet Slaughters 333 Whales In Antarctic Expedition

A Japanese vessel with a mother minke whale and calf in 2008. CC BY-SA 3.0 au/Wikimedia Commons

Japanese ships have returned from the Antarctic Ocean after slaughtering 333 whales.

In a statement published on Thursday, the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) announced that its four-ship fleet has killed 333 minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean since December 1, 2015. One hundred and three of these were males and 230 were females, of which 90.5 percent are estimated to have been pregnant.

These actions challenge the United Nations’ legally-binding ban on Japan’s whaling activity, which was passed in 2014. However, the ruling features a few loopholes that allows whaling if it’s done in the name of “scientific research.”

The location of this season's whaling operation by the ICR. ICR

Indeed, the ICR claim these whales were killed for "scientific" research, such as analysis of krill population and information on the marine environment. However, for a long time, many have questioned the purpose or validity of the research. Much of Japan’s “research” has been seen as an attempt to prove that whale population numbers are high and stable enough to resume commercial whaling.

“We can collect all the information we need from whales using non-lethal means and the ICJ said Japan needs to look at those non-lethal means,” Darren Kindleysides, director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, told The Guardian in 2014. “And yet the bottom line is that Japan wants to kill more than 300 minke whales."

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