Monday, December 24, 2007

Hooray for the Humpbacks!

"Giving in to U.S. pressure and worldwide criticism, Japan's government on Friday announced a whaling fleet now in the Southern Ocean for its annual hunt will not kill the threatened species as originally planned."

Sadly however, some other species of whales, not quite so endangered, will be hunted. The Japanese insist the kills are for scientific research. Sadly, there was nothing in the article to suggest the Japanese position was invalid. It seems to be a matter of differences of priorities between Japanese scientists and conservation groups intent on increasing the humpback population to it's pre-modern-whaling level of around 100,000. The population stands at aroud 30,000 to 40,000 today, qualifying it for a "vulnerable" rating by the World Conservation Union.

The Austrailian government has taken a much stronger view:

"Australia, meanwhile, announced this week it was launching a new push to stop Japan's annual whale hunt, including sending surveillance planes and a ship to gather evidence for a possible international legal challenge. Late Friday, Australia led some 30 other countries in lodging a diplomatic protest with the Japanese ambassador to Australia over the whaling program.

'The Australian government welcomes the announcement by Japan that it will suspend its plan to kill humpback whales this season,' Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said in a statement. 'While this is a welcome move, the Australian government strongly believes that there is no credible justification for the hunting of any whales.'"

Let's hope we get to see the scientific debate of that last point.

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