Japan unveils plans for new whaling mother ship
Despite a 30-year global ban on commercial whaling, Japan’s Fisheries Agency has signalled the country’s intention to carry on with the illegal practice after unveiling plans for a new whaling mother ship.
This will replace Japan's current Nisshin Maru ship, with the decision to upgrade flying in the face of an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling, as well as global public opinion, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
“Politicians in Japan seem to be prepared to do anything to keep whaling alive, despite the lack of support for whaling or appetite for whale meat,” EIA ocean campaign leader, Clare Perry, said
“Japan is laying its cards on the table by announcing plans for a new multi-million dollar mother ship which, if built, could remain in operation for decades to come, killing thousands of protected whales.”
Conducted under the guise of scientific research, the EIA says that Japan annually lands thousands of tonnes of whale meat and blubber, which is then sold on the open market.
The Nisshin Maru ship can hold more than 1,000 tonnes of whale meat in its freezer facilities – the equivalent of approximately 250 minke whales – and is operated by Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research.
However, in 2014 the ICJ ruled that the Japanese whaling programme is unfit for the purposes of scientific research.
Naturalist and broadcaster, Chris Packham, told TRANSFORM: “If we want to stop whaling we could do it instantaneously, instead we have all this posturing by the US, UK and Australia.
“The Japanese aren’t stupid, they know that part of their culture is out of date, and becoming insignificant economically – it is such a small amount of money our government could earn that instantly.
“But there is no will to do it because they don’t see the significance, however, I think that will change because these things are becoming vote-winners.”
It is also reported that Japanese officials believe they need to upgrade their mother ship so that it can more easily evade anti-whaling activists like those at the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
This comes just months before the 67th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), where Japan has regularly sought to overturn the ban on commercial whaling.
Perry said that the country appears to believe it will be successful in reversing the 30-year moratorium based on its major budgetary decisions, but warns that it makes no “economic or social sense whatsoever”.
“The stakes are high and anti-whaling countries are not doing enough to counter Japan’s refusal to abide by IWC rules,” she continued.
“We urge all governments that care about the conservation of the great whales to step up their actions ahead of the 67th IWC meeting in Brazil.”
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM