18 years of whaling and no science or fish to show for it

Press release - 12 November, 2004
Japan's 'research' whaling fleet has gone to the Antarctic again today, to discover if whales really do eat fish!

The government of Japan has sanctioned whaling in defiance of an international convention for almost two decades, thinly disguising it as "scientific research".

In that time, over 6,000 Antarctic Minke whales have been culled in the pursuit of "evidence" that they threaten fish stocks. Unsurprisingly, no fish has been found in the stomachs of the hunted whales, as it was already scientific fact and common knowledge that the vast majority of what these whales eat is krill, not fish.

"The Japanese government should stop thinking of resumption of commercial whaling already and should stop calling this expedition as "research", said Kazue Suzuki of Greenpeace Japan. "Research can be done without hunt. The data the Japanese government would collect is not requested by IWC."

Not only is the "science" wholly misguided, it is also unwanted. It is claimed the 'research' is being done for the International Whaling Commission (IWC), but the IWC has said they do not need to data and has repeatedly asked that the program be stopped. The waters surrounding the Antarctic were made into a whale sanctuary in 1994.

A legitimate scientific study published last week (1) found that krill has declined by 80 percent since the 1970s in some waters within the Antarctic whale sanctuary threatening the food supply of whales as well as seals and penguins.

In addition, surveys over the last decade have found less than half the number of Antarctic minke whales estimated in previous study.

The IWC has withdrawn its population estimate for the species and is trying to develop a new one.

Tomorrow's departure will be the last of an 18-year programme. However, government officials have already announced that they intend to renew the hunt next year, without waiting for a scientific review of the current programme.

- Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.-

Notes: (1). Long-term decline in krill stock and increase in salps within the Southern Ocean: Atkinson, Siegel, and Pakhomov & Rothery - "Nature" 4th Nov 2004