Japanese Whaling

Daniel Lentz

Kevin Lentz, Staff Writer

The practice of Japanese whaling goes back hundreds of years; however, in the past twenty years the practice has come under scrutiny from various wildlife preservation groups from around the globe. The concern was caused by the slaughter of many endangered species of whales and sharks. In the 2014 ruling, the International Court of Justice came to the decision that the Japanese whaling fleet must cease operations in the Southern Ocean.

In spite of the ruling, the Japanese whaling fleet continues to kill whales in the Southern Ocean by exploiting a loophole in the 1984 moratorium against whaling. The document states that no whaling shall occur that is not crucial to research. The loophole works because any ship with a research permit assigned by the government of that country is legally allowed to hunt and kill a designated amount of whales determined by the government of that country. Since Japan’s whaling market is so large, the country was able to cram a whole fleet through that loophole by issuing bogus research permits to all of its ships.

The government, then, is responsible for the subsequent drop in many endangered whale species local to East Asia and Oceania, including minke whales and blue whales. Between 2005 and 2013 the Japanese have killed an estimated 4,000 minke whales, 18 fin whales, and numerous other species of whales, sharks, and dolphins. To further the problem, the fleet has driven some animals like the great white shark to the point of being endangered.

Many conservation groups and governments from around the world have always been outraged by Japans blatant disregard for international law and are finally doing something about it. In 2014 the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to halt whaling operations in the Southern Oceans under all circumstances, ships registered for research or not. Japan initially suspended their whaling for the season, however the following season turned around and fought the ICJ and argued that they had no jurisdiction over whaling. In spite of the continuing fight over the issue of whaling in the ICJ, Japan has developed a plan to allow their ships to kill around 4,000 minke whales over the next 12 years.

As of right now (2016) there is still an ongoing investigation into the Japanese whaling fleet to try and find some other evidence that would help in the cause of stopping the practice all together. With growing opposition and Japan being one of the last countries still practicing commercial whaling, it may not be long before whaling as a whole is ceased and the whales of the world can finally swim in peace.