The whale hunt will last three months in the North Pacific, and
in addition to the 50 endangered Sei whales, the whalers plan to
catch 150 Minke, 50 Bryde's and 10 Sperm whales.
The whalers have not had long to catch their breath at home.
They returned from the Southern ocean in April carrying two
thousand tonnes of whale meat for commercial sale caught in a whale
sanctuary 6000 miles from Japan.
For the past 15 years, the Fisheries Agency of Japan has
subsidised the hunt for whales through a private organisation set
up by Japan's whaling industry under the guise of "scientific
Exploiting a loophole in the rules of the International Whaling
Commission that allows countries to issue permits to kill whales
for lethal research, the whale meat from this 'research' ends up
for sale on the domestic market at a value of about four billion
yen each year.
This is the whaling fleet's third trip to the North Pacific
since the Japanese "scientific" whaling programme began, but it is
the first time in 26 years that Sei whales will be hunted.
Sei whales were heavily exploited during the last century and
are now classified as an endangered species by the International
Union for the Conservation of Nature and the US government.
The Fisheries Agency of Japan has defended its "research"
whaling as essential to finding out how whales affect the world's
fishery resources. But it is already well known that the problems
of declining fish stocks are caused by over fishing.
This hunt has nothing to do with science, it is about making
money. Last summer's hunt in the North Pacific concentrated on
filling the Bryde's whale quota, the species with the highest
And money may be the deciding factor that lifts the worldwide
moratorium on commercial whaling.
Last month delegates met in Shimonoseki for the International
Whaling Commission's annual meeting, not far from where the
Japanese whaling fleet was docked making preparations for their
departure. After hard lobbying by the Japanese delegation, they
were unable to overturn the whaling moratorium, but the Japanese
government made a mockery of the democratic process by influencing
votes in exchange for foreign aid.
The Fishery Agency of Japan uses fisheries grant aid to buy the
votes of developing countries. The strategy has been in place since
the early 1990s. Documented evidence includes statements made by
high-ranking Japanese officials and the testimony of Prime Minister
Lester Bird of Antigua and Barbuda, one of the bought
Bought votes may secure the Government of Japan a simple
majority (greater than 50 percent) of countries voting in favour of
commercial whaling, not because countries are changing their minds,
but because the votes have been bought. If this practice continues
unchecked, it is only a matter of time before the Japanese
government buys their way into a new era of commercial whaling.
Take action to stop whaling in the North Pacific,
send a letter to the Japanese Fisheries Agency and ask them to stop