Four months ago, environmental activists celebrated a hard-fought victory in the Antarctic sea when Japanese whaling vessels appeared to have abandoned the practice of hunting whales under the guise of 'scientific research' -- but the shift in direction seems to have merely been geographical. Early reports indicate that the government sponsored Institute of Cetacean Research will be once again embarking on a mission to catch and kill 260 whales, this time in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.According to a report from Australia's Herald Sun, Japanese whalers have revamped their efforts to scour the ocean for the planet's largest mammals after their Antarctic hunt was cut short due to the unrelenting obstruction of activists like Sea Shepherd.
The three-vessel fleet, led by the Nisshin Maru, plans to catch 260 whales including 100 minkes until late August to study their stomach contents, DNA and other information, according to the Institute of Cetacean Research.
The government-affiliated institute has organised such operations since 1987, citing a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling which allows hunts for scientific research.
Anti-whaling nations and environmentalist groups condemn the activity as a cover for commercial whaling but Japan said it is necessary to substantiate its claim that there is a robust whale population in the world.
After four months of no whaling activities, conservationists around the world had hoped that Japan decided to cease the practice for good -- but it's clear that that isn't the case. Perhaps whalers feel as though they won't get so much negative attention from anti-whaling activists this time around, though I suspect they'll find themselves in the wrong quite soon.