A Japanese coastal whaling fleet killed 30 minke whales between April and June according the country’s fisheries agency. The hunts, part of Japan’s northwestern Pacific ‘research’ programme, are the first since an international court ordered a halt to its annual whaling expedition in the Antarctic, calling in to question the scientific value of such a slaughter.
The northwestern Pacific hunt is one of two so-called ‘scientific research’ whaling programmes conducted by Japan in order to bypass the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling. The ban allows certain lethal research on whales, but much of meat ends up in restaurants and fish markets in Japan.
In March, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Japan’s other whaling programme in the Antarctic was not scientific as Japan had claimed, and must stop. The court reached its verdict on the grounds that the hunts were commercial whale slaughter masquerading as research. Japan has since suspended next season’s Antarctic hunt but is seeking to revise and resume it.