Japanese fleet heads to Antarctica to harpoon more whales

Archive photo from 2005 departure ©IFAW
Friday, 28 December, 2012
London, UK

The Japanese whaling fleet has left port for Antarctica to train its harpoons on around 1,000 whales.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW www.ifaw.org) is disappointed that the Japanese government continues to prop up this needless slaughter with taxpayers’ money which would be better spent supporting the country’s whale watching industry.

According to Japanese media reports, the country’s whaling fleet is en route to the Southern Ocean Sanctuary to kill up to 935 minke whales and 50 endangered fin whales, in defiance of global opposition and several international laws. The Japanese government provides millions of dollars a year in taxpayer subsidies to maintain the ageing fleet.

Japan hunts whales in the seas surrounding Antarctica for so-called science despite a worldwide ban on commercial whaling. IFAW believes Japan’s whaling produces sham science and is merely commercial whaling by another name.

Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Global Whale Programme, said: “The government of Japan is harpooning its own interests, with earthquake aid and taxpayer money being wasted to keep the dying whaling industry afloat.”

IFAW opposes whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary; scientists agree there is simply no humane way to kill a whale. This is proved by footage of Japanese whaling which has shown whales taking more than half an hour to die. In addition, much of the meat is merely stockpiled or sold cheaply to schools and hospitals.

In contrast to a poor market for whale meat*, whale watching offers a profitable as well as humane alternative to the cruelty of whaling, worth around US$2.1 billion annually to coastal communities.

In Japan alone, whale watching generated around US $22 million in 2008. There are currently around 30 whale watching operators working from a dozen locations around the Japanese coast, demonstrating that responsible whale watching is the only truly sustainable ‘use’ of whales.
IFAW encourages all governments to take the strongest diplomatic action possible against Japan and call for an end to its whaling programme.

Notes to Editors:
* Recent polling by Nippon Research Center on behalf of IFAW found 88.8% of Japanese people have not bought any whale meat in the last 12 months.

In October 2012, IFAW commissioned the Nippon Research Center to conduct public opinion polling throughout Japan on public attitudes towards whaling. A total of 1,200 people were surveyed aged 15 to 79 and across all geographical areas in the country.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information visit, www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation