Sea Shepherd Blasts Japan's Plan to Slaughter 4,000 Minke Whales

Environmental activist group Sea Shepherd warned Japan against resuming “research” whaling in the Antarctic in defiance of an international court of justice ruling that it cease the practice and called on the Australian government to intervene.

After a decade of activism by Sea Shepherd and other groups, Japan was forced to abandon its 2014-15 Southern Ocean hunt after the International Court of Justice said the annual expedition was a commercial activity masquerading as research.  But on Saturday, Japanese media reported it would start again soon, despite a call by global regulators for more evidence that the expeditions have a scientific purpose. Japan’s  Yomiuri Shimbun and other media said the Japanese fleet could depart possibly by the end of December.

Despite international disapproval, Japan has hunted whales in the Southern Ocean under an exemption in the global whaling moratorium that allows for lethal research.

Japan’s fisheries agency has told the International Whaling Commission that it would resume whaling in the Antarctic Ocean by killing 333 minke whales this season and kill almost 4,000 minke whales in the Antarctic over the next 12 years.

CEO of Sea Shepherd Global, Captain Alex Cornelissen, has condemned Japan’s plans to return to the Southern Ocean to slaughter whales.

“The pristine waters of the Southern Ocean are once again under threat from poachers,” said Cornelissen. “We would like to remind the Japanese government that the whales of the Southern Ocean are protected by international law, by Australian law and by Sea Shepherd. As such, any violation of the sanctity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary or the Australian Whale Sanctuary will be regarded as a criminal act.”

On Saturday, the Japanese Fisheries Agency officially notified the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that it is readying the harpoons of its whaling fleet to return to the waters of Antarctica.