Ja­pan’s whalers get free run in Antarc­tic

The Guardian Weekly - - World roundup -

14 A fleet of Ja­panese ships is hunt­ing minke whales in the South­ern Ocean. It is a po­lit­i­cally in­cen­di­ary prac­tice: the wa­ters around Antarc­tica were long ago de­clared a whale sanc­tu­ary, but the des­ig­na­tion has not halted Ja­pan’s whalers, who are con­tin­u­ing a tra­di­tion of catch­ing whales “for sci­en­tific re­search” in the re­gion.

In the past, con­ser­va­tion groups such as Sea Shep­herd have mounted cam­paigns of ha­rass­ment and suc­cess­fully blocked Ja­pan’s ships from killing whales. But not this year. De­spite pre­vi­ous suc­cesses, Sea Shep­herd says it can no longer frus­trate Ja­pan’s whalers be­cause their boats now carry hard­ware sup­plied from mil­i­tary sources, mak­ing the fleet highly elu­sive and al­most im­pos­si­ble to track. As a re­sult the whalers are – for the first time – be­ing given a free run to kill minke whales.

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