Japan's annual Antarctic whaling in the name of "science" has been a controversial issue as of late, so you would think that it's good news when the country announced Tuesday that it's cut its whaling quota by two-thirds. However, the move appears to be a ploy to resume this cruel killing and convince international opponents that it is for scientific purposes.
The International Court of Justice - the highest court of the United Nations - ruled in March that Japan must stop its whaling practices in Antarctica. Back in 1986 it was determined that scientists could conduct commercial whaling as long as it's for research, and not sport. But it seems that Japan and all its sushi lovers are taking advantage of this loophole.
"The whaling commission is long overdue to adopt reforms that will protect whales from so-called scientific hunts, which are in reality, a cover for the harvesting of whale meat," Aimee Leslie of the World Wildlife Fund said at the International Whaling Commission meeting in September, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP).
But Japan turned in a revised program Tuesday saying it would target only 333 minke whales every year from 2015-2027. That's down from the 1,035 whales it typically catches, including 935 minke and 100 fin and humpback whales.
Furthermore, in its bid to meet halfway and ensure officials that their intentions are honest, Japan also promised to publish its findings in scientific journals and share them on a database.
"We certainly may face questions," Agriculture Minister Koya Nishikawa told The Associated Press (AP). "We will try to provide thorough explanations so we can gain the understanding of each (IWC) member nation."
Thanks in part to the activist group Sea Shepherd, which has spoken out against these whale hunts, Japan killed far fewer whales than they targeted - 251 minke whales in the 2013-14 season and 103 the previous year.
Minke whales are the smallest of the "great whales," or rorquals, and swim in cooler northern waters. And although their population numbers appear to be stable, according to the NOAA, conservationists worry than annual whaling by Japan, as well as Norway, is depleting their numbers.
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