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<p> According to the report, Japanese whaling vessels returned to port from the annual hunt with 333 Antarctic minke whales, of which 181 were females. Of those, 122 or 67 percent were pregnant. The whalers also took 61 immature males and 53 immature females. </p><p> The Japanese government plans to hunt about 4,000 whales over the next decade despite the IWC's 1986 moratorium on commercial hunting. The country launched its scientific whaling program in 1987 as a loophole to the moratorium and insists that the marine mammals are killed in the name of research. </p><p> However, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-environment-japan-whaling-idUSKBN1720NH" target="_blank">Reuters</a> noted that Japan's ultimate goal is the resumption of commercial whaling. The government insists that most whale species are not <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/endangered-species" target="_blank">endangered</a> and that eating whale is part of its culture, even though most Japanese people no longer eat it. </p><p> The Australian chapter of <a href="http://hsi.org.au/releases/index.php/2018/05/29/japan-kills-122-pregnant-whales-in-southern-ocean/" target="_blank">Humane Society International</a> expressed outrage over the new figures and called on the Australian government to intervene. </p><p> "The killing of 122 pregnant whales is a shocking statistic and sad indictment on the cruelty of Japan's whale hunt," said Alexia Wellbelove, senior program manager at Humane Society International, in a statement. "It is further demonstration, if needed, of the truly gruesome and unnecessary nature of whaling operations, especially when non-lethal surveys have been shown to be sufficient for scientific needs." </p><p> "Whales are already facing substantial threats including bycatch in fisheries and marine pollution. Significant conservation efforts are underway worldwide to address these issues, so the least Japan could do is put away the harpoons," she added. </p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xNzgyMjY0OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTg0MzgwMH0.QBvqpnGpks4RXpKCu_2V8OhjRHPRXJeA-bXlLWQMqIA/img.jpg?width=980" id="39d8c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="adba049467d8b6bc55f9a8170619f215" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"> <small class="image-media media-caption" placeholder="add caption...">Survey Area in the New Antarctic Cetacean Science Survey</small><small class="image-media media-photo-credit" placeholder="add photo credit...">Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research</small> </p><p> Conservation organization <a href="https://www.seashepherdglobal.org/" target="_blank">Sea Shepherd</a> has <a href="https://www.seashepherdglobal.org/our-campaigns/operation-nemesis-11th-antarctic-whale-defense/learn-more-operation-nemesis-11th-antarctic-whale-defense/" target="_blank">long opposed</a> Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean and has sent ships since 2005 to intercept the hunts. The group, however, did not send ships this year. Founder Captain Paul Watson told <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/australia-refuses-to-stop-japanese-whaling:-sea-shepherd/8851226" target="_blank">Australian Broadcasting Corp</a> in August that Japan is "using military technology. They have real-time satellite coverage of where we are. We cannot close in on them." </p><p> "It's a waste of time and money to go down there and not be able to achieve anything," he added. </p><p> In November, Sea Shepherd <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AE8Mhw-PNA" target="_blank">released</a> a grisly and unsettling video of a Japanese whaling fleet hunting in the Antarctic Ocean in an Australian whale sanctuary. The Australian government obtained footage of the hunt in 2008 but suppressed its release over diplomatic concerns with Japan. Sea Shepherd was only able to publicly release the film after winning a five-year Freedom of Information battle that began in 2012. </p><p> Australia's Labor party environment spokesman Tony Burke told the <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/japan-slaughters-more-than-120-pregnant-whales-for-research-20180529-p4zi68.html" target="_blank">Sydney Morning Herald</a> that the government "can't continue to turn a blind eye to this. It's appalling." </p><p> "There is nothing scientific about harpooning a pregnant whale, chopping it up and putting it on a plate. Japan's position on this is absurd and the Australian government must not be silent," he said. </p><p> Wellbelove added, "The continued killing of any whales is abhorrent to modern society, but these new figures make it even more shocking. We look forward to Australia and other pro-conservation countries sending the strongest possible message to Japan that it should stop its lethal whaling programs." </p><p> The next IWC meeting will be held in Brazil in September. </p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-twitter_embed"> <iframe width="100%" height="150" scrolling="no" class="rm-shortcode twitter-embed-980974439503466497" id="twitter-embed-980974439503466497" type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="/res/community/twitter_embed/?iframe_id=twitter-embed-980974439503466497&created_ts=1522717506.0&screen_name=EcoWatch&text=Another+333+Minke+Whales+Killed+by+Japanese+Fleet+https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FzrKTvDKwVi+%40ConservationOrg+%40NatGeo&id=980974439503466497&name=EcoWatch" frameborder="0" data-rm-shortcode-id="UU8VWR1576662359"></iframe> </p>
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Photo credit: Sea Shepherd Global
Japan's whaling vessels returned to port with 333 minke whales on Friday after its months-long Antarctic hunt.
The Fisheries Ministry said the whales were killed in the name of science.
<p>"The purpose of this research is to carry out a detailed calculation of the catch limit of minke whales and study the structure and dynamics of the ecological system in the Antarctic Ocean," <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-31/japan-whaling-fleet-kills-333-minke-whales-southern-ocean-hunt/8405690" target="_blank">it said</a>. <br></p><p>Japan plans to hunt nearly 4,000 whales over the next 12 years despite the International Whaling Commission's 1986 moratorium on commercial hunting. The country launched its "scientific whaling" program in 1987 as a loophole to the moratorium. </p><p> <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-environment-japan-whaling-idUSKBN1720NH" target="_blank">Reuters</a> noted that Japan's ultimate goal is the resumption of commercial whaling. Japan insists that most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is part of its culture, even though most Japanese people no longer eat it. </p><p><span></span>Conservation groups have rebuked the most recent hunt.</p><p>"Today <a href="http://www.seashepherdglobal.org/" target="_blank">Sea Shepherd</a> mourns the loss of these whales," the marine wildlife conservation organization said. "We have called an emergency meeting of the Global Board of Directors in Amsterdam this weekend to review our whale defense strategy in the Southern Ocean, and will release a more detailed statement on Monday morning." </p><p>Sea Shepherd's long-running <a href="http://www.seashepherdglobal.org/nemesis/about-operation-nemesis.html" target="_blank">Operation Nemesis</a> campaign has a mission of ending Japan's whaling program. The group is urging governments to "stop making hollow statements of disapproval and start taking action to hold Japan accountable" or the "needless slaughter of marine life will continue." </p><p>Kitty Block, the executive vice president of <a href="http://www.hsi.org/" target="_blank">Humane Society International</a>, had similar sentiments. </p><p>"There is no robust scientific case for slaughtering whales," Block said. "Commercial whaling in this, or any other disguise, does not meet any pressing human needs and should be relegated to the annals of history."<br></p>
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