Japan found responsible for the death of 333 Antarctic Minke whales
Japan has been found responsible for the unfortunate deaths of 333 Antarctic Minke whales. According to the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research, the 333 dead Minke whales include 200 pregnant females. The legitimacy of the program was challenged by the International Court of Justice in 2014, National Geography reports. The International Whaling Commission has banned commercial whaling, however, an exclusion was always maintained for scientific reasons, which Japan has been blamed for using as an cover for commercial whaling for a long time.
Leah Gerber, a marine mammal biologist shared his thoughts with National Geography. He said that the bulk of the whales go to the market to be consumed by people rather than being used for scientific purposes. After the international court ruling, Japan put a stop to their expeditions for a while only to start them again in the 2015-16 whaling season, reducing the quota of whales to about two-thirds. The quota reduction looked good on paper, however, in previous years Japan used to execute 200-400 whales per year. Compared to that their tally of 333 does not serve their reputation well.
In addition, Japan’s whaling activities significantly involves female Minke whales. Captivating them and terminating them to figure out the age for the Minkes to reach sexual maturity, an information that is used to display that Minke whale population is fit enough for regular whaling.
Japan mostly conducts or carry out their whaling activities during the breeding season which is why most whales dead in the program were pregnant.
Though the preservation status of the Antarctic Minke whales is vivid at the moment, however, some surveys and researches show that the population of Minke whales have suffered a decline of 60 percent compared to the 1978-91 and the 1991-2004 periods, pushing the species a bit further along the lines of becoming extinct.