Japan ‘killing off’ pregnant whales

Japan is killing off the next generation of whales by slaughtering a large number of the pregnant sea giants, an environmental group says.

According to a Japanese government report into its whale take in Antarctica over the summer, almost 60 per cent of all females killed were pregnant.

The Humane Society International said the report shows 853 minke and 10 fin whales were slaughtered.

Of the 391 female minke whales killed, 224 were pregnant with 227 foetuses.

Two of the fin whales were pregnant, carrying one foetus each.

The Humane Society said this takes the overall death toll from Japan’s scientific whaling program in Antarctica over the summer to 1,092.

“Three further minke females killed were lactating and we must assume their calves perished without their mother’s milk,” Humane Society spokeswoman Nicola Beynon said.

“What also has to be taken into account is that they’re killing the future generation at the same time, so the actual mortality is much higher,” she said.

Ms Beynon also said that around 90 per cent – or 786 minke whales and nine fin whales – of all the whales killed were taken from the Australian Whale Sanctuary.

Two weeks ago, the full bench of the Federal Court ruled that the Humane Society could sue Japanese company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd, with the aim of gaining an injunction preventing it from whaling within the sanctuary.

The Australian and New Zealand governments have ruled out taking legal action against Japan, Iceland and Norway to try to end the slaughter of thousands of whales each year.

Last month, pro-whaling nations at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting successfully passed a motion condemning the IWC’s 20-year-old ban on commercial whaling.

Source: The Age (Australia)