Sunday, 23 November 2014
Once Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was safely out of Australia, after attending the November 2014 G20 summit, Japan announced it will continue its annual whale kill in the Southern Ocean.
Reuters 18 November 2014:
Japan on Tuesday unveiled plans to resume whale hunting in the Southern Ocean despite an international court ruling that previous hunts were illegal, but said it would slash the quota for the so-called scientific whaling program….
The new plan, which a Fisheries Agency official said was drawn up in line with suggestions contained in the court ruling, calls for hunting 333 minke whales, down from some 900 in Japan's previous whaling plans, in the 2015-2016 season.
The plan, which Japan has submitted to the International Whaling Commission, also limits the hunt to minkes. In past years, the hunts had included quotas for humpback and fin whales as well.
"We hope to earnestly explain this new plan in order to win understanding from other nations in the world," Koya Nishikawa, the fisheries minister, told reporters.
Japan canceled its Antarctic hunt this year in response to the ICJ ruling, and carried out a scaled-down version of its less known Northern Pacific hunt this summer.
The Sea Shepherd organisation has stated its intention to prevent the 2015-16 whale hunt by hindering the whaling fleet once it enters Antarctic waters.
Australian Government Dept. of the Environment, Australian Antarctic Division:
Minke whales are one of the smallest species of baleen whales and grow to nearly 9 metres long and about 10 tonnes in weight.
There are two 'forms' of minke whales, sub species or possibly even separate species. They are distinguished by size and colour pattern differences…
Minkes are the only baleen whale species which is still common in Antarctic waters and apparently the most ice adapted of the Antarctic baleen whales. They have been seen hundreds of kilometres into heavy pack ice in the middle of winter, and some of them obviously spend the winter there.
In summer, their favoured habitat seems to be open pack ice, that is, pack ice where there is quite a lot of open water among ice floes.
In very heavy ice, minkes breathe by sticking their pointed heads vertically out through narrow cracks in the ice. How they can find their way from one open crack to another before they run out of breath is a mystery.
Minkes are regarded as very inquisitive animals. They will often swim repeatedly around a small vessel, and go out of their way to approach a moving ship, before veering away at high speed….
They are now the target of the whaling industry, which in its present form, kills minkes for 'scientific research', but is attempting to recommence commercial whaling. The meat from this research is sold in commercial markets….
Like other baleen whales, many minke whales migrate to somewhere in tropical waters to breed in winter….
...they feed almost exclusively on Antarctic krill while in Antarctic waters.... usually feed in groups, but may form huge groups of many hundreds if there is enough food present.
Antarctic minke whales commence breeding at between 6-8 years of age, nurse their young for five months after a 10-11 month gestation and, have a normal life expectancy of over 20 years possibly up to around 50 years.
Minke whale and calf