Absolute sushi

 作者:能驱     |      日期:2019-03-08 06:17:03
By Alison Motluk JAPAN’s programme of “scientific” whaling is coming under renewed attack. Despite having missed half the whaling season following a fire on the fleet’s main ship, officials haven’t ruled out catching their full quota of 440 minke whales. This would blow arguments used to justify the programme out of the water, critics claim. Although the International Whaling Commission has imposed a moratorium on commercial catches, Japan has been whaling legally under scientific permit since 1987. Opponents allege that this is a commercial hunt in the guise of science—after a few samples are taken, they point out, minke meat ends up in Japan’s sushi bars. This year’s hunt was delayed by a fire on 19 November aboard the Nisshin Maru meat-processing vessel. The fleet was forced back to Japan for repairs. Only now are the processing ship, sighting vessel and three catcher boats ready to sail. But halving the research period does not necessarily mean halving the number of animals sampled, says Nobuyuki Yagi of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. “If we reach Antarctica by the beginning of February, we could still do meaningful research.” Japan’s justification for taking so many whales has always been that, to fully understand the ecology of minke whales in Antarctic waters, it needs to catch a similar number of whales from the same subgroups of the population each year. The Japanese whaling fleet could easily take 440 whales before the season ends on 21 April, experts say. But many believe this could only be achieved if the whalers abandon the official plan to sample from each population subgroup. Bob Brownell of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, says: “The question now is: can they keep to the sampling design?” Britain, Australia and the US are urging Japan to abandon this year’s hunt. “It’s a disappointment that they are making such an effort to go back,” says Ivor Llewellyn,