The blue whales of the Antarctic are still at less than 1 percent of their original abundance despite 40 years of complete protection. Some populations of whales are recovering but some are not. Only one population, the East Pacific grey whale, is thought to be near its original abundance but the closely related West Pacific grey whale population is the most endangered in the world hovering on the edge of extinction with just over 100 remaining. The number of Antarctic whales is less than 10 percent of what it was before whaling began.
The International Whaling Commission imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986. However, Japan has continued hunting for what it calls scientific research – a claim rejected by critics.
“Japan is flouting international agreements and public opinion by escalating its slaughter of whales, especially when everyone knows their claims of scientific research are just an excuse to get fresh whale meat on to Japanese dinner plates,” said Greens leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons.
Despite international protests, Japan has this year more than doubled its planned catch of minke whales to 935. It has also added 10 endangered fin whales and plans to eventually lift the number to 50, along with 50 rare humpback whales.