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Whale hunt in our waters

Dawn Gibson
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

JAPAN'S decision to send a whaling fleet into the Pacific for "scientific research" faces strong opposition in the region.

Whale advocates in the Pacific, including Fiji, said the move was not justified after a court ruling by the International Court of Justice last month banned the Japanese fleets from whaling off Antarctica because Japan was whaling commercially, not for scientific reasons as it had previously claimed.

According to international media reports over the weekend, the fleets will likely begin their "scientific" whale killing some time this week.

Pacific Islands Program for Whale and Dolphin Conservation co-ordinator Dr Cara Miller yesterday told this newspaper the court's ruling was a clear indication that whaling activities did not have appropriate scientific merits.

"Some of the main problems were that there was no valid reason justifying the number of whales that were killed for the study, very few scientific publications were released despite a more than 20-year research program, and data could have been obtained by non-lethal means," Dr Miller explained when asked about whether such research was necessary.

"The justification for the number of whales is clearly lacking. Not only is the number not at all justified, there are other non-lethal ways to collect data on whales.

"In total, there have been around 13,000 whales taken in the scientific whaling programs in Antarctica and the North Pacific."

The Japanese fleets, according to the article, intend on taking 210 whales in the name of scientific research.

And given the relatively low reproduction rates of the majestic creatures, this does not seem ideal.

"Depending on the species, a female may have a calf every two to three years - and this is only after they reach maturity which may be around age five to 10 (depending on species again)," Dr Miller added.

"I think it's important the ruling and precedent set by the International Court of Justice is followed not just in Antarctica but in the North Pacific Ocean too."

When asked about Japan's intentions to begin whaling practices here in the Pacific Ocean given they had just been slammed with a court ruling to cease whaling immediately, Japan's deputy chief of mission to Fiji Kinzo Nakagun said the Japanese Government was aware of international whaling conventions.

"At the moment what I can say is that our government is still considering research of whales.

"Japanese Government is fully aware of international laws and regulations, and we will abide by international laws and regulations."

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