Japanese whaling: tradition vs. conservation

Disputes between the Japanese and marine-life activist groups have reached a whole new level.

Last week, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry of Japan released information about how there had been a record low for whale killings in Japan this year. This upset many Japanese people, along with Yoshimasa Hayashi, the minister of the department.

So far, only 103 Antarctic minke whales have been killed. No humpback whale or fin whale deaths have been recorded. This is only 10 percent of Japan’s kill quota. At this time in 2012 this time, the kill quota was already up to 26 percent.

Hayashi blames the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for the lack of whale kills. In an EMagazine article, Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), a trade group for the whale-hunting industry, describes the intervention as “malicious and unacceptable” because it disrupts Japan’s traditions that involve whale meat.

“Modern whaling takes place on a sustainable basis and is carried out carefully to avoid impacts on overall whale stocks,” said ICR Spokesman Gavin Carter.

Hayashi said he thinks the world is “culturally attacking” Japan and the other countries who use whale meat in their culture. He mentioned how Koreans eat dogs and Australians eat kangaroos and how that is never shown in a negative light.

“We don’t eat those animals, but we don’t stop them from doing that because we understand that’s their culture,” Hayashi said. “Whaling has long been part of traditional Japanese culture, so I just would like to say ‘please understand this is our culture.'”

Sea Shepherd has released statements in which they call whale-hunting an “ecological terrorism.” The group believes killing intelligent animals who communicate in mysterious and complex ways does more harm than good.

Sea Shepherd in Australia have already prepared ships to send to the coast of Japan for the 10th season of interferences in December.

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