Magazine article Geographical

Hunt Is on for Whaling Solution. (Global)

Magazine article Geographical

Hunt Is on for Whaling Solution. (Global)

Article excerpt

Japan has attracted renewed international condemnation as its whaling season begins in earnest, proving its resolve to continue its research policy. A fleet of its whaling vessels recently left the western Japanese port of Shimonoseki on a six-month hunting expedition in Antarctic waters.

New Zealand's Conservation Minister Sandra Lee went so far as to describe the fleet's departure as a "despicable move". She said, "Japan's assertions that this whaling is necessary for scientific research purposes are unfounded."

Japanese whaling supremo, Joji Morishita said, it was not fair that a country's cultural practice is outlawed by the international community. He also defended the robustness of the research being carried out by Japan, which hopes to prove the sustainability of whaling.

"Its purpose is not just to count the whales but discover the age composition of the population," he told Geographical.

"This means whales must be killed, as we must look at the wax in the whales' heads and see what is in their stomachs. The whales are selected through random sampling, so not necessarily the biggest ones are killed, as you would expect if we were hunting for meat."

Morishita explained how over 100 samples and data recordings are taken from each killed whale in a 16-year-long programme, now in its 12th year. Some 5,000 whales have so far been slaughtered.

The `by-product' of the activity, the meat -- seen by many as the real reason for the operation -- is sold to resaturants. "To throw away the meat would be a waste of a resource," Morishita said. …

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