Posted by: The ocean update | April 10, 2015

Minke whale hunt starts off north-eastern Japan coast

Crew members on a whaling ship prepare for departure from Ayukawa port in the north-eastern Japanese city of Ishinomaki on April 10, 2015. Photo : Kyodo News

Crew members on a whaling ship prepare for departure from Ayukawa port in the north-eastern Japanese city of Ishinomaki on April 10, 2015. Photo : Kyodo News

April 10th, 2015. SENDAI (Japan) — A fleet of four whaling ships left a port in north-eastern Japan today (April 10) to hunt a maximum 51 minke whales in coastal waters in the period up to May 26 as part of the government’s scientific research whaling program in the north-western Pacific Ocean.

The Association for Community-Based Whaling, a nonprofit organisation set up for coastal research whaling, plans to hunt in a 90km radius area from Ayukawa port in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, to examine the animal’s impact on marine resources by checking the stomach contents and other facets of the game.

During a ceremony at the port marking the departure of the whaling ships, Mr Yoshiichi Shimomichi, head of the Association for Community-Based Whaling, expressed hope that the research whaling will be a success and will help resumption of commercial whaling.

In March last year, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean violated the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, ordering Japan to halt its research whaling in the Antarctic.

In response to the ruling, Japan reviewed parts of its research whaling program in the north-western Pacific and scaled down operations last year.

Japan’s “research” whaling has been a target of international criticism as meat from the hunted animals is placed on the market after scientific examinations are completed. Critics say it is a cover for commercial whaling.

Coastal research whaling is conducted off the port in Ishinomaki in the spring and off Kushiro, Hokkaido, in the fall.

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