Nothing Scientific About It

A whale lays on dry land, victim of a kill. Photo: AFP

There’s nothing scientific about it. That isn’t the official stance of the Japanese government, nor am I completely sure of it, but there’s one thing for certain, and that’s that the meat of whales caught by Japanese vessels for the purpose of “scientific research” ends up on the market as food every single year.

In 2014 The Hague, the international governing body in charge of keeping an eye on life, the universe, and everything, declared not only that there was no longer to be whaling in Antarctica for scientific reasons, but that Japan’s whaling fleet, in particular, served absolutely no purpose in the greater scheme of scientific findings.

In essence, Japan is whaling for meat. This year, in fact, it brought home 333 whales, 157 of them pregnant. In a nation that only has 86 national universities, and not even all of them dedicated to the study of cetaceans, that number, simply put, is ludicrously high.

The MY Steve Irwin, a Sea Shepherd ship, at sea. Photo: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

What’s more to the story is that the Sea Shepherds, a society dedicated to directly confronting the Japanese whaling fleet, has decided to stop interfering with the process. But it didn’t come without intimidation. The Japanese government is now using military-grade technology to get ahead of the organizations movements, a move which founder Paul Watson notes makes it nearly impossible for them to keep up.

In addition, Japan has changed its anti-terror laws, in part to directly address the threat posed to their whaling fleet by the Sea Shepherds. With the authorization of military force to be used against the activists, Watson says that the government of Japan might “send their military to defend their illegal whaling activities.” With human lives at risk, other paths are being carved out to prevent the practice of whaling from continuing.

But not all is lost. The organization is refocusing their resources to combat illegal whaling and taking to the streets to gain voices from within that support the cause of rescuing whales from unnecessary fates.

“There are now voices in the Japanese government opposing the continuation of whaling,” Watson notes.

While the Sea Shepherds are on the sidelines for the time being, they have inspired other anti-whaling organizations with their tactics, and these organizations may be waiting on the fringes to run with the torch left by the most popular anti-whaling organization on Earth.

333 dead whales slaughtered, even though the demand for whale meat is lower than ever and the government actually needs to subsidize these ships.

Old habits die hard, but how many more whales have to die?

  • Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor