In April, the Japanese press claimed that along with plans to increase the number of minke whales it kills annually, it plans to begin taking humpback and fin whales, species which it has not hunted since the International Whaling Commission’s moratorium on commercial whale hunting went into effect in 1986.
Along with minke whales, Japan currently hunts sei whales, sperm whales and Bryde’s whales as part of a limited scientific research hunting it is allowed to cull without being in violation of the commercial hunting moratorium.
According to Kyodo news agency, Japan will submit a whaling plan to the IWC ahead of its meeting this summer in which it outlines plans to almost double its current take of 440 minke whales, as well as add around 10 humpback and 10 fin whales.
An unidentified Japan Fisheries Agency official would not comment on the veracity of the report, but did tell Reuters,
However, it has been recorded that the populations of the humpback and fin whales in Antarctica are increasing. Nobody disputes this.
. . .
We always maintain that we will discuss these things scientifically, but with whales, it quickly grows emotional.
This is clearly a ploy on the part of Japan to ratchet up the rhetoric in favor of eliminating the commercial moratorium on whaling ahead of the IWC’s next meeting. Currently the moratorium is hanging on by a thread, barely surviving recent efforts by Japan and Norway to return to regulated commercial hunting of whales.
Reports: Japan to Expand Whale Hunt to New Species. Elaine Lies, Reuters, April 12, 2005.