Japan’s Claim of “Scientific Whaling” has Nothing to do with Science- Only Profit

In 1986 the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling. This was done as an attempt to conserve the whale species that were getting close to extinction. The ban has not deterred the hunters; whales are still being killed across the world’s oceans.

Japan is one of those hunting whales in defiance of the ban. They plan to kill 333 minke whales a year they are claiming will be used only for research. This number is two-thirds the number they normally took. They have taken a break from hunting whales for one year; however, do have plans in place to resume in 2016. This is planned despite the International Court of Justice stating they should stop. Japan’s response to the Courts ruling is that they have done their best to comply with the criteria set by the Court, and have decided to continue with their research as they dispute the Courts jurisdiction over “living resources of the sea.”

Japan’s IWC Commissioner, Joji Morishita says the international community is just going to have to live with their decision to continue hunting whales. He feels they have justified their research plans and will have to “agree to disagree” being the solution between them, the Court and the whaling communities. He further stated they are limiting their numbers they will take as they too want a healthy whale population. Japan contends that most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale meat is part of their culture; therefore will continue with “scientific whaling” as they have since 1987.


“Scientific Whaling” quite simply put is the commercial whaling done under the disguise of science. The countries issue their own catch limits and little if any scientific information is gained through it. This process was set up in 1946 at the whaling convention that allowed whales to be hunted for scientific purposes.

  • With a scientific whaling permit the meat must be used, sold or given away. This basically makes it a license to sell whale meat.
  • The whaling permit is granted by the country who applied for it; therefore Japan can approve their permits.
  • Most countries that kill whales for science are mostly the same ones who create markets for whale meat.

The whaling community is not satisfied with Japan’s response and is considering legal action. Australia and 32 other nations are opposing the Japanese whaling expedition that set out last week. There is talk they may take Japan back to the International Court to halt their hunting. Commonwealth lawyers have little hope a fresh case will make any difference in this dispute as Japan has decided to withdraw from the court’s jurisdiction. The Turnbull government may also be planning to have aircraft surveillance in place to monitor Japan’s fleet which recently left.

The idea this controversy is over “scientific” whaling seems absurd. There does not appear to be anything related to science in the hunting and killing of these majestic animals. This is purely a commercial hunt which would produce financial gains. The Japanese do not have a “culture” of eating whale meat as even the top whaling negotiator; Komatsu Masayuki states he never tried the meat until he took on the job as negotiator. This outrage and the attempts to stop the hunting should be addressed as a “saving the whale” project against hunting them; without any reference to science. It is an environmental issue not a right for or against the study of science.

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