Japanese Whalers are hunting humpbacks again
I am just furious over this. They know these animals are endangered, but they have decided to slaughter 50 of them and claim it's for research. That is just plain bull! these animals will end up on the dinner tables of wealthy japanese.
SHIMONOSEKI, Japan - A Japanese whaling fleet sailing toward waters off Antarctica to kill protected humpback whales was itself the target of a hunt Monday by environmental activists who vowed to disrupt the expedition.
Greenpeace said its protest ship Esperanza was searching for the fleet south of Japanese territorial waters and would shadow the ships to the South Pacific to try to reduce their catch.
"Its a large ocean, but weÂre going to track them down," expedition member Dave Walsh told The Associated Press by telephone Monday.
In a statement, Greenpeace expedition leader Karli Thomas added that "the whaling fleet must be recalled now. If it is not, we will take direct, non-violent action to stop the hunt."
The Japanese fleet was embarking on the countryÂs largest whaling expedition, targeting protected humpbacks for the first time since the 1960s. In a farewell ceremony Sunday for the four-ship expedition, officials told a crowd at the southern Japanese port of Shimonoseki that Japan should preserve its whale-eating culture.
"TheyÂre violent environmental terrorists," mission leader Hajime Ishikawa said. "Their violence is unforgivable ... We must fight against their hypocrisy and lies."
Families waved little flags emblazoned with smiling whales and the crew raised a toast with cans of beer, while a brass band played "Popeye the Sailor Man."
The whalers plan to kill up to 50 humpbacks in what is believed to be the first large-scale hunt for the once nearly extinct species since a 1963 moratorium in the Southern Pacific put the giant marine mammals under international protection.
The mission also aims to take as many as 935 minke whales and up to 50 fin whales in what JapanÂs Fisheries Agency says is its largest-ever scientific whale hunt. The expedition lasts through April.
Japan says it needs to kill the animals in order to conduct research on their reproductive and feeding patterns.
Alleged cover for commercial whaling
While scientific whale hunts are allowed by the International Whaling Commission, or IWC, critics say Japan is simply using science as a cover for commercial whaling.
Ken Findlay, a whale biologist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, said the humpback population was recovering but said he was worried Japan would kill whales from vulnerable breeding grounds like those off New Zealand.
He also said JapanÂs hunting methods were unnecessarily cruel. Japanese whalers sometimes chase wounded animals for hours, he said.
"I donÂt think firing a harpoon at a whale and then dragging it next to the ship is ethical," Findlay said. "You question the necessity of that. ItÂs not research."