Japan Whalers at 55% Capacity This Year

According to CNN.com, the Nisshin Maru, a japanese whaling ship, returned from the “field season” with only half its intended sample size for its scientific whaling.

“Japan’s top whaling ship returned to port Tuesday, leading a fleet that killed just 55 percent of its season target of 1,000 whales amid violent protests in the Antarctic.

The Nisshin Maru made a special stop in Tokyo so the coast guard could inspect it for possible damage sustained during clashes in which animal rights activists tossed containers of rancid acid at the whalers.

The fleet killed 551 minke whales this season, far below the plan of up to 935 minke and 50 fin whales. Japan had also planned to take 50 humpback whales this year, but postponed that in December in the face of an international outcry.

Japanese whaling officials criticized protesters for interfering, but vowed to press ahead with the hunt, which is allowed under international rules as a scientific program despite the 1986 ban on commercial whaling.[…]”

While I agree that with Australia’s ministers that the violence and illegal activities of the of the anti-whaling protesters should be condemned, it does seemed to have made an impact on Japan’s annual hunt. Does this send the message that aggressive tactics work while diplomacy and negotiations fail? Is coming home at half capacity considered a whale conservation success? What are your thoughts?

11 Replies to “Japan Whalers at 55% Capacity This Year”

  1. Wow. that really does cause a bit of conflict… I mean I am all about peaceful resolution as much as possible, yet the only thing that has worked on the Japanese whaling program is violent opposition and harassment. If that is the only thing that does work…

  2. I’m afraid I can’t feel sorry for the whalers. Japan’s fishing practices are not sustainable, and they’re gonna do a lot of damage to the oceans before they learn that.

    I avoid eating fish (aside from rare special occasions) because I don’t want to contribute to the overfishing problem, but what good does that do one country consumes (for example) nearly half the tuna caught every year? Best of all, being a wealthy nation like the USA, they’re going to be able to afford their seafood addiction for a long time, just like we can still afford our fossil fuel addiction despite the price of gasoline doubling over the last couple of years.

  3. animal rights activists tossed containers of rancid acid

    Acid can go rancid?

  4. lol fullerene, I caught that too the first time I read it through. But later on the writer says rancid butter buckets and acid, which I think is just plain weird. Don’t the buckets contribute to more plastic in the ocean?

  5. In the CNN article, they mention that last years season was cut short due to a fire onboard the whaling ship. Said to be unrelated to anti-whaling protests. So the 2 years aren’t really comparable.

  6. Found the numbers after some browsing:


    With 551 Minke whales caught this year, they are back at 2001 levels, and at about half the catch of 2005.. If those numbers reflect their quota (obviously not for the last two seasons), it seems the Japanese are really boosting their ‘research’.

  7. Well it kinda does send that message. Aside from interfering ice flows and the lack of whales at the expected locations, it does look like the aggressive protests had some effect. It doesn’t matter if it really didn’t and the other factors were what mattered in the reduce catch, the fact that it looked to work is what mattered. Now is that a good thing; while i feel a bit eh about the tactics, the seeming results makes it feel OK right now.

    Now the question seems to be what will be the Japanese response next year? From an interview i heard on NPR or the BBC World it seems that the Japanese Coast Guard will station some personnel on the whalers and factory ships. Will they be armed, at this time i don’t know, but just as important would be fact that any aggressive action next year on the part of protesters has the possibility of injuring government people and creating an international incident. This could escalate to armed response and/or armed escort for the fleet in the years following. Though we’ll have to wait until next year to see what happens.

    As for is this a conservation sucess? Well, it’s at least a small improvement.

  8. Fullerenedream and Kevin Z, it was Butyric acid (aka Butter acid) – smells like vomit (because it’s in it), similiar acidity to vinegar.


    I was horrified by the violence, and the historic actual ship ramming and sinking by Sea Shepherd, but OTOH they have saved 50 fin whales (the second largest of the whales) and contributed to saving 50 humpback whales, and that’s valuable. Diplomacy has achieved far less in the last decade (except that it has succesfully resisted Japan’s push for the resumption of commercial whaling, which would be a cetacean disaster).

    The Japanese Coast Guard already have armed people on the whaling ships and fired ‘stun’ grenades at the protestors.

  9. To davidp, define armed please. Or were the Flashbangs the armament?

    The reason why i’m stating this is imagine some assault rifle armed coast guard personnel stationed aboard ships of the whaling fleet opening fire against these protestors. Whether from a sense that they really are in danger or a sense that they should do their duty and prevent any problems from occuring.

    Of course as of now any Whaler could cause massive problems for any protestor vessel: just swing the explosive tipped harpoon firing gun and use it against the bridge or the comm array. And the list goes on.

    Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this.

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