Whalers depart Japan

Humpbacks to be hunted

Feature Story - 2007-11-19
The Japanese government whaling fleet has departed its home port of Shimonoseki, for its biggest hunt since the moratorium on commercial whaling came into being over twenty years ago.

Ships from the Japanese whaling fleet head south with the intention to kill and "process" more than 1000 whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The fleet intends to kill more than 1,000 whales while in the Southern Ocean, including 50 endangered fin whales, 50 threatened humpback whales and 935 minke whales.

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is standing by off the coast of Japan. You can read the crew blog here or check out the live webcam.

Despite claims that the Japanese are conducting a "research project," the whale hunt isn't science.   The International Whaling Commission has said the data the whalers gather isn't helpful, and virtually everything the Japanese will learn by harpooning the whales could be learned by non-lethal means.

The hunt for whales is in fact stealing money from Japanese taxpayers, and robbing other countries of much-needed tourist income. The threatened humpbacks targeted by the whalers are part of thriving whale watching industries elsewhere.

"The whaling fleet must be recalled now. If it is not, we will take direct, non-violent action to stop the hunt," said expedition leader Karli Thomas aboard the ship.

Humpbacks don't need to die for science. We're collaborating with Pacific-based scientists through the Great Whale Trail project, demonstrating that whale research can be done effectively and non-lethally. The Great Whale Trail has been monitoring the location of tagged humpback whales as they migrate to the Southern Ocean from the Pacific.

The Great Whale Trail website will also track the Japanese whaling fleet as it heads south.