MOSCOW, September 7 (RIA Novosti) - Four Japanese ships set off from the northern island of Hokkaido to begin seasonal whaling “research” a loophole enabling whale hunting, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on Sunday.
Whalers planned to kill some 50 minke whales in Pacific coastal waters during their “research” which spans until the end of October, Japan’s Fisheries Agency said.
The expedition beginning on Sunday officially claims to survey the contents of whales' stomachs, allowing the whale hunt to bypass the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling which shut down all whaling in the area including a 2014-15 hunt in March, AFP reported.
Once it became clear that the numbers of whales being killed were endangering whale populations, a ban on commercial whaling was introduced in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission. Japan hunts under a loophole which allows lethal research on the mammals in the name of science. Japan has shamelessly used this loophole to provide restaurants and fish markets with whale meat.
The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, angered anti-whaling groups in June when he told parliament that he would boost his efforts towards restarting commercial whaling in the country, the Guardian reported.
A Japanese expedition in July killed some 90 sei whales and 25 Bryde’s whales while a June expedition slaughtered some 30 minke whales.
Despite bans on commercial whaling and the trade in whale products, Japan, Norway and Iceland kill some 2,000 whales between them every year according to Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC).