Japan whale hunt killed 122 pregnant minkes

TOKYO: Japan killed 122 pregnant minke whales during a highly controversial annual whaling expedition that Tokyo defends as scientific research but conservationists call “gruesome and unnecessary”.
The four-month expedition in the Antarctic ended in March after the fleet killed 333 minke whales, according to a report submitted by Japanese authorities to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) last month.
Of those, 122 were pregnant, according to the Japanese report, with dozens more immature whales among those killed.
Humane Society International, a conservationist group, called the figures “a shocking statistic and sad indictment on the cruelty of Japan’s whale hunt”.
“It is further demonstration, if needed, of the truly gruesome and unnecessary nature of whaling operations, especially when non-lethal surveys have been shown to be sufficient for scientific needs,” said the group’s senior programme manager, Alexia Wellbelove.
Japan is a signatory to the International Whaling Commission, which has maintained a moratorium on hunting whales since 1986.
But Tokyo exploits a loophole allowing whales to be killed for “scientific research” and claims it is trying to prove the population is large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting.
It makes no secret of the fact that meat from the expeditions ends up on dinner tables. Japan’s Fisheries Agency defended the hunt, saying it was not targeting pregnant whales.
“We catch whales totally at random,” said Yuki Morita, an official in charge of whaling at the agency.
“The IWC scientific committee recognises the number of whales we hunt is at the level that is necessary for research, but not above the level that would hurt the conservation of the stock,” he added. — AFP