Last year’s numbers for the same fleet amounted to only 172. This year is a sharp increase from the previous numbers, though the ICR stated that the 267 they managed to successfully hunt were still well-below the number they were targeting.
Japan has been hunting whales under the guise of research for 25 years now, following the 1986 report that indicated whales were reaching near-extinction levels. Though they claim research purposes for their hunts, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has stated that most of the research being done by the ICR is essentially useless. The true purpose behind the Japanese fleets appears to be the tons of whale meat and organs which are shipped to market and sold to consumers.
The ICR is but one organization that supports whaling under the flag of research. There
The Japanese fleets, however, do have the distinction of being responsible for the majority of these kills. Luckily, there are organizations that actively fight against these fleets, both legally and not-so-legally. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is one such band of branded outlaws which has taken to the high seas to directly confront whale hunters.
How long will it have to be before we as a species can begin to look at whales as a creature worth preserving? Will they have to disappear completely before we finally decide that the world was better off when they were still around?
On a more hopeful note, the market for whale meat in Japan appears to be crashing. Maybe the cost of the fleets will become too much to balance out the money made from sales and the whaling expeditions will, at the very least, slow down some.