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Japan Kills First "Endangered/Rare" Bryde's Whale In North Pacific!!
- August 10, 2000
Source: WDCS


  • Bryde's Whale
  • WDCS has learned that the Japanese whaling fleet in the North Pacific killed its first Bryde's whale on 1 August. Further details are awaited and will be posted in due course.

    Please email President Clinton:
    The US Commerce Secretary made a commitment recently that, "We will take very strong action if we find that they are in fact taking sperm and Bryde's whales".

    Following this first kill, please send an email to President Clinton, calling on him to impose trade sanctions against Japan and prevent the slaughter of any more whales.

    - Japan Widens Whale Hunt, Provoking Objections -
    By Andrew Revkin
    The New York Times
    Saturday, July 29, 2000

    Despite strong objections, Japan plans to send its whaling fleet into the North Pacific today to hunt sperm whales and Bryde's whales, two rare and little-understood species, along with minke whales, a more common variety.

    It is acting under a research program that is opposed by many countries and by private environmental groups. An international moratorium on commercial whaling took effect in 1986, but under a provision that allowed some killing for scientific research, Japan began harvesting several hundred minke whales a year. The meat has been sold to Japanese consumers, for whom it is a delicacy. That effort has been criticized by many countries as commercial whaling by another name, but the annual take of minkes was largely tolerated by other governments because the species is abundant.

    Yesterday, though, Washington and London reacted with anger after Japan said it would harvest two species that were nearly hunted to extinction by fleets of factory ships in recent decades. President Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain have been prominent critics of the expanded hunting. Particularly vexing to the Clinton administration was the resumption of plans to kill sperm whales, the type immortalized in "Moby-Dick."

    "This is really an aggressive move by Japan," said Rolland Schmitten, the deputy assistant secretary of commerce for international affairs, after a meeting with Japanese officials at the White House. "We let them know that we opposed this at the highest level. These whales do not have to be killed for the science. We were prepared to work with them on nonlethal ways to collect the same information."

    The Japanese officials agreed to reduce the total harvest to 100 whales from a planned take of 160, administration officials said. But the rarer species were not dropped from the plan. White House officials said Mr. Clinton would consider using trade sanctions to try to dissuade Japan from carrying out its whaling plan. They said Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright planned to discuss the matter on a visit to Japan today.

    Yesterday, the Japanese Embassy in Washington issued a statement saying the purpose was to study the diet and ecology of the animals. The statement said sperm and Bryde's whales would be included "because their populations are relatively abundant and in good condition."

    The decision comes three weeks after the International Whaling Commission, a 54-year-old group of former and current whaling countries, rejected the Japanese plan to expand its scientific whale hunt to include the new species. The group's scientific committee said that Japan's research plan was flawed and that most of the data could be obtained without killing whales. P. J. Crowley, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said, "While they are technically allowed under international law to do this, it's our view that the world is moving in one direction in terms of conservation and Japan appears to be moving in a different direction."

    As word of Japan's decision spread, private environmental groups reacted harshly, saying Japan's true motive was to pave the way for a resumption of full-scale commercial whaling. They said the hunting of the new species, which are much larger than minke whales, would require the use of factory-style ships that had essentially been in mothballs since the moratorium began. A few sperm whales have been hunted sporadically by aboriginal groups around the world, but this would be the first large-scale harvest, many groups said. "This decision by Japan is a slap in the face of President Clinton, Prime Minister Blair and many others around the world who have been working to persuade Japan to cancel its plans," said Fred O'Regan, president of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which studies whale populations.

    Some environmental groups said they feared that the Japanese move could unravel a consensus that with a few exceptions had ended large-scale whaling. Norway hunts minke whales, and Finland and Iceland have conducted research on whaling in the past. Richard Mott, vice president at the World Wildlife Fund, said, "This hints at a return to the kind of factory ship whaling that was responsible for the near-extinction of many species of whales in the first place."