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As the Japanese whaling fleet prepares to set sail for the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary in the coming days, WSPA finds evidence from the country’s own Institute of Cetacean Research that it is impossible to accurately shoot a whale at sea.
It is not WSPA’s place to comment on the legitimacy of the suggestion that a shot was fired at an anti-whaling activist onboard the Sea Shepherd from a Japanese vessel (reported as part of Animal Planet’s ‘Whale Wars’ press). However, we were very interested to see the press release issued by Japanese ‘scientific whaling’ body, the Institute of Cetacean Research in response to the TV series, which started in the US earlier this week.
The Institute broadly denies shooting at an activist on the deck of the Sea Shepherd vessel, explaining that such a feat would be beyond their abilities:
“It would be extraordinarily difficult for one party to shoot accurately at another from a range of approximately 150 yards when both are on moving platforms, there are difficult weather conditions (wind and sea spray) and the target is positioned on a crowded bridge.”
Claire Bass, WSPA International’s Marine Mammals Programmes Manager said:
“WSPA is delighted that the Institute of Cetacean Research has finally come to agree with us that whaling is a haphazard activity based more on luck than judgement. It seems they can’t shoot people or whales accurately, but they’ve certainly shot down their own arguments about humane killing with this quote.”
“There is simply no humane way to kill whales at sea. Of the nearly one thousand whales that Japan will slaughter over the next two months only around 40% will die within 10 seconds – that means over 600 whales suffering from horrific harpoon wounds, some for over an hour. This cruel slaughter may be out of sight but it is certainly not out of mind: the international community demands an end to this outdated and unnecessary practice.”
Japan plans to kill up to 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales as they set sail to the Antarctic to begin this year’s hunt, despite having almost 2,000 tonnes of unwanted whalemeat in freezers from previous hunts and regardless of a declining Japanese demand for whale meat.
Claire adds: “The Japanese fleet leaves port armed with around half a tonne of explosives and a shopping list of almost one thousand whales. That a civilised society considers this an acceptable way to kill sentient mammals simply defies belief. It’s time Japan consigned this brutal practice to the history books.”
The first whales are likely to be killed just as the IWC holds an Intercessional meeting in Cambridge, UK, to determine the future of the organisation. As with all whaling, Japan’s so called ‘scientific whaling’ is inherently cruel, with an instant kill being impossible to assure and whales suffering a slow and painful death.