Japan slaughters 122 pregnant whales for 'scientific research'

Activists have called Japan's programme

Activists have called Japan's programme"an illegal whale hunt. /AGENCIES

"But even then, nothing about it stacks up because the whalers do not make a profit, they are heavily subsidized by taxpayers' money and whale meat is hardly ever consumed in Japan now".

The latest figures show that of 333 minke Antarctic whales killed last summer, 181 were females.

Out of the 333 minke whales killed in 2017 as part of Japan's so-called scientific whaling program, 122 were pregnant while another 114 were juveniles, according to documents recently released by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Two Japanese vessels were involved in the expedition that was reportedly launched for "scientific research" and hunted the whales using harpoons loaded with 30g penthrite grenade.

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However this only results in instant death for 50% - 80% of harpooned whales. That means numerous animals have to suffer an excruciating amount of pain before they die. Reportedly, the killed whales were brought overseas the research vessel and cut apart on-site.

Much of this information, the authors claim, can only be obtained through "lethal sampling methods".

The Japanese analysed the stomach content to "estimate prey consumption" and measured blubber thickness to "study the nutritional condition" of the dead whales. Organs are also weighed using electronic scales and the skull is weighed with large calipers.

Officials from the Japanese government-affiliated Cetacean Research Institute and the National Research Institute for Far Seas Fisheries were unavailable for comment, but other animal rights organizations have echoed Sea Shepherd's anger.

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And while Japan claims that its whaling is carried out for scientific purposes, the country allows whale meat to be sold in markets and restaurants, reports Nicole Hasham of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Despite an global ban on the practice, Japanese whalers continue to claim that their whale hunts are for scientific purposes.

"The killing of 122 pregnant whales is a shocking statistic and sad indictment on the cruelty of Japan's whale hunt", Alexia Wellbelove of the Humane Society International, said in a statement.

"The whales often get used for pet food".

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In March 2014, Japan's previous program was deemed "not for the purposes of scientific research" by the International Court of Justice, which made it illegal under the IWC's whaling regulations. However, Japan withdrew its recognition of the court as an authority on whale disputes and resumed hunting the very next year, according to The Maritime Executive. Animal and whale activists however strongly suspect the country of conducting commercial hunting expeditions on the sly.

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