A report has revealed that more than 120 pregnant whales were killed during Japan’s annual hunt last year.
According to the International Whaling Commission report (pdf), 122 of whales that were pregnant died at the hands of Japanese research vessels. The report also said that 114 juvenile whales were harpooned, killed, and necropsied.
The report said that Japanese hunters shoot grenade-tipped harpoons at the whales in the South Ocean between Australia and Antarctica. Then, they haul the slain whales on a vessel and cut them apart on-site, LiveScience reported.
Conservation groups were outraged after the publication of the report, seizing on the opportunity to slam Japan’s hunting program.
“The killing of 122 pregnant whales is 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 Alexia Wellbelove, Senior Program Manager at Humane Society International, according to the Maritime-Executive.
Japan said that its whaling fleet returned home from the Southern Ocean in March 2018 after a successful 143-day investigation “without being interfered with by the anti-whaling group,” likely referring to the militant activist group Sea Shephard.
In 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled Japan’s Antarctic whaling program illegal, but instead, Japan resumed hunting in 2015, according to the Maritime-Executive.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Japan plans to catch an additional 4,000 whales over the next 12 years.
“Research effort began 60 minutes after sunrise and ended 60 minutes before sunset, with a maximum 12 hour per day,” said a report from Japan on its whaling activities, according to The Guardian.“One or two minke whales were sampled randomly from each primary sighted school using harpoons with a 30g penthrite grenade,” it said.
Japan’s report said that 11 targeted minke whales were able to get away before they were hit.
But, they added, “Sampled whales were immediately transported to the research base vessel, where biological measurements and sampling were carried out,” The Guardian reported.
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