AMSTERDAM - June 10 - The fleet of "research" whalers expected to depart Japan June 10th is sailing under false pretences Greenpeace said today.Last year the "research" whalers marketed 3,000 tonnes of whale meat for 52 million dollars.
"The real product of the hunt is thousands of tonnes of whale meat, not scientific data. It is a sham to say this hunt is for "scientific" reasons when the body for which the "research" is being done, the International Whaling Commission (IWC), does not need the data and has called for the program to be ended," said John Frizell of Greenpeace International.
At its most recent meeting, the IWC expressed deep concern that the provisions of its charter providing for research whaling were enabling countries to conduct whaling for commercial purposes despite the moratorium on commercial whaling and said that those provisions were not intended to be exploited in order to provide whale meat for commercial purposes.
A Norwegian whale hunt is already underway and the government plans to take 670 minke whales in the only openly declared commercial whale hunt in the world.
Responding to widespread criticism, the Icelandic government recently announced that they will scale down their so called "scientific" whaling programme and limit this year's take to 25 minke whales. Iceland caught its first whale of 2004 a few days ago and Greenpeace is continuing its campaign against the resumed hunt. (1)
Promoters of whaling claim that whales are eating too many fish and so harming fisheries. But whales are a natural part of the ecosystem. Some of the fish they eat are predators of commercially valuable fish, so a healthy population of whales may contribute to a good catch for commercial fishermen. A hundred years ago both fish and whale populations existed at much higher levels than are found today.
"The real cause of declining fish catches is over fishing, not hungry whales," said John Frizell. "To claim otherwise is absurd and unscientific and Greenpeace will be campaigning at the annual IWC-meeting in Italy in July for the moratorium on whaling to be respected." (2)
(2) The annual IWC meeting takes place from 19th-24th of July in Sorrento, Italy.