Japan's new whaling plan - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Japan's new whaling plan

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Japan said its quota for hunting whales will be reduced this season Japan said its quota for hunting whales will be reduced this season
SPOKANE, Wash. - Japan has a new plan for hunting whales next year, but it doesn't involve ending the program. Despite being ordered by the International Court of Justice to halt whaling altogether, and dealing with whale advocates like the Sea Shepherd organization, Japan has announced that it will still hunt whales in the Antarctic ocean, but it will reduce its quota. 

Japan will submit its new plan to the International Whaling Commission. Japan has been issued a "scientific" permit every year from the IWC. Iceland and Norway are the only other countries who currently practice whaling, however their whaling is commercial, whereas Japan receives a "scientific permit" from the IWC. 

Japan claims its whaling in the southern ocean for scientific purposes, and their first study, the JARPA research plan, took 18 years and ended in 2005 with mixed results. During that time Japan says more than 6,700 minke whales were killed according to Australian news website news.com.au. During that time Australia argued that it was "practically unachievable" to estimate the probability that a whale would die from natural causes in any particular year. 

The second study, JARPA II, began during the 2005-2006 season and has no end date. Japan said the program is organized into six-year research phases, with a review to be held after each phase. 

During JARPA II, Japan hopes to archive four things: 

1. Monitor the Antarctic ecosystem for changes in whale numbers, prey numbers, the effects of contaminants, pregnancy rate, age at maturity and other factors.

2. Construct an “ecosystem model” that models competition between species, such as whether the overhunting of species such as fin and humpback whales led to more food for others, like the smaller minke whale. This could examine the effects of the resumption of commercial whaling.

3. A comparison of the numbers of whales based on historic information and yearly fluctuations.

4. Improve the management of minke whale stocks and analyses whether the catch quota is set too low.

But why kill the whales to conduct the research? Japan argues they need to kill the whales to collect ear plugs to determine the age of the whales, examine stomach contents and measure blubber. Originally Japan sought to kill 850 Antarctic minke whales, as well as 50 fin and humpback whales. On average, about 450 minke whales are killed year year and very few fin whales. In the past seven seasons there have been no humpback whales killed. 

Japan has blamed their low numbers on sabotage activities conducted by Sea Shepherd. 

So why kill the whales if their "scientific numbers" are not being met? In a 2007 unpublished paper submitted to the scientific community cited by news.com.au in April 2014, Japan stated "what research is costly and therefore lethal methods which could recover the cost for research (are) more desirable," and whale meat is an expensive delicacy in Japan.

Japan has said it will reduce its quota during this year's whale hunt, but seeing as how they were already falling short of their 850 minke whale quota, it is unknown however much of an impact their lower quota will have on the hunt. 

On Sea Shepherd's website, the organization cites an injunction imposed on them in December 2012 by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, saying the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society no longer participate in the Southern Ocean whale defense campaigns. However, the southern ocean whale defense campaigns are coordinated by Sea Shepherd Australia Limited, which is a separate organization. 

For more on Sea Shepherd, CLICK HERE: http://www.seashepherd.org/whales/

For more on the International Whaling Commission, CLICK HERE: http://iwc.int/home

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