On the hunt … Japan’s research whaling vessel Nisshinmaru bid farewell as the ship departs a port in Shimonoseki, western Japan, for the Antarctic Ocean. Source: AFP

JAPAN has declared it will send a whaling fleet to the Antarctic, defying international criticism and a UN legal ruling that the “research” expedition is a commercial hunt in disguise.

And now Malcolm Turnbull is being urged to raise the issue of whaling when he makes his first official visit to Japan.

Tokyo has for years come under intense global pressure to stop hunts that opponents decry as inhumane, but the government defends them as an inherent part of Japanese culture.

Conservation group Sea Shepherd Australia said yesterday it would use its own ship to follow the mission, which Japan’s Fisheries Agency said in a statement yesterday it would aim to kill a total of 333 minke whales.

A minke whale on the deck of a whaling ship for “research” in the Antarctic Ocean. Source: AFP

A minke whale on the deck of a whaling ship for “research” in the Antarctic Ocean. Source: AFPSource:AFP

The group has clashed with Japanese whaling ships in the past. “Any illegal activity we come across we’ll engage, our history speaks for itself,” said Sea Shepherd Australia director Jeff Hansen.

Sea Shepherd’s Adam Burling said “Australia has a moral if not a legal right to halt this”.

“We’re in the process of potentially ordering Japanese submarines, we’re doing trade deals.

“This needs to be brought up with his counterpart and it needs to be in the strongest terms.”

It is understood final preparations are underway for Mr Turnbull to travel to Japan at the end of parliamentary sittings in Canberra on December 3, with Japanese media reporting the visit was likely to take place in mid-December.

The talks are expected to focus on the contract to build Australia’s next fleet of submarines, defence and trade.

Attorney-General George Brandis told parliament on Monday that Australia was making diplomatic representations at “the highest levels” in a bid to get Japan to change its mind and would consider sending a Customs patrol vessel to the Southern Ocean if talks weren’t successful.

Urged to take action ... Sea Shepherd wants Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to speak out against Japan’s whaling. Picture: AAP/ Ella Pellegrini

Urged to take action … Sea Shepherd wants Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to speak out against Japan’s whaling. Picture: AAP/ Ella PellegriniSource:AAP


The United Nations’ highest court, the International Court of Justice, ruled in March 2014 that the annual Southern Ocean expedition was a commercial hunt masquerading as science to skirt an international moratorium on whaling.

After that ruling, Japan chose not to carry out lethal hunting during its 2014-15 Antarctic research mission, saying it would only count whales and take skin samples.

The Fisheries Agency insisted yesterday the upcoming whaling research mission reflected previous recommendations from the International Whaling Commission’s scientific committee and that it would cut annual minke catches by two-thirds to 333.

It did not say why it chose that number, though the committee has previously said Japan had failed to justify the need for even a reduced annual figure.

“We think all the necessary procedures are over,” a fisheries official said. “As we seek to resume commercial whaling, it is crucial to get information as to whales’ migration, reproductive rates and the age pyramid of the population for setting catch quotas,” the official added.

Lethal whaling is necessary “to get this kind of essential information,” he said.

“The research ships will depart for new whale research in the Antarctic on December 1, 2015,” the Fisheries Agency said, adding that the research period would run from late December to early March.

The fleet will include a mother ship and three other vessels with a total of 160 crew members.

Japanese media had earlier reported the government planned to resume the hunts, prompting a strong reaction.

“We do not accept in any way, shape or form the concept of killing whales for so-called ‘scientific research’,” Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Saturday.

Delicacy ... Whale meat sushi. Picture: Supplied.

Delicacy … Whale meat sushi. Picture: Supplied.Source:Supplied


“Non-lethal research techniques are the most effective and efficient method of studying all cetaceans.”

Yesterday a spokeswoman for Hunt said Canberra was “keeping its options open” regarding a potential response to the resumption.

A coalition of Japanese non-government organisations, including Greenpeace Japan, issued a joint statement urging the government to “uphold international rules”.

“The Japanese government should stop research whaling in the Antarctic and should start taking actions toward conservation of the ocean,” the statement said.

Japan accuses opponents of being emotional about the mammals and disregarding what it says is evidence to support its position.

It also conducts hunts in the name of science in the Northwest Pacific and off the Japanese coast.

Japan has long said its Antarctic hunt was allowed under an exemption in the global whaling moratorium that allows for lethal research.

But it makes no secret of the fact that meat from the mammals — despite being killed ostensibly for research — is processed into food, and says the whale population in any case is big enough to allow sustainable whaling

[Source:- news.com]

By Adam