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LatestPhoto
A live Minke Whale is tethered to a Japanese Whale Research Ship by the harpoon on its back.
Photo: Courtesy of Greenpeace

January 8, 2002
Scientiofic Whaling in the Southern Ocean Santuary
  Real Audio
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Log Transcript

This is Genevieve Johnson speaking to you from Perth in Western Australia. The Odyssey is now docked in Fremantle as the crew prepare to haul the boat out of the water for a week of maintenance following an incredibly successful first research leg in Australian waters.

When the crew returned to port and our first exposure to the news in nine days, we were intrigued and disturbed to learn that at the same time we had been at sea carrying out our benign research on sperm whales, a group of supposed "whale scientists" were conducting research in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary in Eastern Antarctic waters. Alarmingly, the vessel had sailed into Australian territorial waters off the coast of the Australian Antarctic claim. This particular group of Japanese whale scientists left their home port on November 4th, 2001 and are killing Minke whales in order to gather supposed genetic data.

In an eight-day period, the Odyssey crew collected small biopsy samples from nine sperm whales. The taking of these samples had no measurable effect on the whales and will contribute to a data set that includes both genetics and toxicology studies. While we are with the whales we also gather behavioural and acoustic data, data that can only be obtained from the live animal.

Japanese whaling interests take up to 440 Minke whales annually in a globally recognised whale sanctuary. Japan uses a scientific whaling permit it is able to issue itself through a loophole in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) guidelines. Not only is this research carried out against the recommendations of the IWC's own Scientific Advisory Board, but Japan has continued to increase its quotas and expand its operations.

Every second year, Japan concentrates its whaling efforts just outside Australian territorial waters in Antarctica. However this week as the Odyssey was quietly and unobtrusively gathering data from sperm whales, 50 miles off Perth, the Nisshin Maru, the Japanese whaling fleet's factory ship along with two of it's whale catcher boats, were discovered 65 kilometres inside the economic exclusion zone by Australia's Antarctic research ship, Aurora Australis. It was not clear whether the whalers had been hunting inside Australian waters as they refused to respond to repeated radio calls from the Aurora. Under Australian law, the killing of whales is forbidden.
"Australia is completely apposed to the hunting of whales, especially when under the guise of science," said Dr. Sharman Stone of the Australian Antarctic Program who will be meeting with Japanese environment officials in Tokyo on January 14th.

For the last couple of months, the Greenpeace campaign ship the Arctic Sunrise has beamed disturbing footage of this year's scientific Minke whale hunt into homes around the world and in spite of global opposition the hunt continues to expand. The whaling taking place in Antarctic waters under the guise of "science" is in reality a commercial enterprise with the meat and blubber being sold on the market for 4 billion Yen a year.

No other country uses lethal methods to research whales.

After completing maintenance work on the Odyssey this week, the crew is looking forward to heading back out to sea to continue collecting data on sperm whales in Western Australian waters. Our research will be contributing to a far more comprehensive and valuable data set that can only be gathered by studying the live animal.

Links:

Resources:

  • "Japanese whaling boat told to leave" Wednesday, January 2, 2000.
    The Age Newspaper. Melbourne, Australia.
  • "Whaling on agenda for Japan visit" Saturday, January 5, 2000.
    The Age Newspaper. Melbourne, Australia.

Log by Genevieve Johnson

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