The whale hunt continues

Feature Story - 11 December, 2011
Another year, another whaling fleet leaves port bound for the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Under the guise of scientific research, they are ready for a new season of senseless whale hunting. The reality is it’s a sham and the benefits remain unclear. Not only does the industry produce no useful research, but stockpiles of unwanted whale meat continue to grow, matched by the growth in international condemnation. The whaling industry has been going downhill for years but it still manages to limp on.

So why is it still continuing?

Because the Japanese Government continues to bankroll it.

In an open letter to the Japanese Government, Greenpeace alongside 18 other Japanese non-governmental organisations calls for the increasingly huge government subsidies wasted on this senseless hunt to end.

With the demand for whale meat at all-time lows, and thousands of tonnes of it remain in storage, it’s clear to see that the whaling industry is ailing.  In the letter, Greenpeace and the NGO’s suggest that the money pumped into the annual hunt would be better spent on the ongoing recovery from the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster. In fact, the Japanese Government has affirmed our accusations that $29 million from its budget for post-earthquake and tsunami reconstruction is actually being spent on the whaling expedition.

Greenpeace believes the key to ending Southern Ocean whaling lies in Japan. We’re working to build public opposition to whaling within Japan and to stop the government subsidies to the whaling industry that enables it to survive.  We’re also lobbying on the international stage to close the legal loopholes that are being used to keep the Japanese whaling industry afloat. The decision at the International Whaling Commission in 1986 to end commercial whaling was essential to reviving the decline in whale populations.

Today whaling is no longer the primary threat to whales. Less publicised but equally important threats to the ocean’s gentle giants include global warming, pollution, overfishing and ozone depletion. Destructive industrial fishing techniques threaten the food supply of whales and also put them at risk of entanglement in fishing gear. We’re campaigning for a global network of marine reserves that will cover 40% of the world’s oceans and will be essential to ultimately protect whales from the numerous threats they face.