Sep 23, 2016 05:23 AM EDT

Japan is killing 333 whales for 'research', is this legal?

By Kay Soliven
Japan killed 333 whales for scientific research
Japan killed 333 whales for scientific research
(Photo : Getty Images/Koichi Kamoshida / Staff)

Japan has reportedly killed at least 333 minke whales this year, out of which are 200 pregnant females, all for the sake of 'scientific purposes.' 

According to National Geographic, the International Whaling Commission has banned whaling for commercial purposes way back 1986, but Japan is using 'scientific studies' exemption to cover up for their whaling activities. Minke whales, which are the smallest member of the rorqual family of whales, received attention since the depletion of larger whales in the recent decades. 

An international court ruling in 2014 doubts the legitimacy of the scientific explorations, but Japan revised the program to be 'more scientific.' The 333 caught whales is already two-thirds lower of its quota for research and scientific legitimacy of the program.

According to whaling program manager of nonprofit organization Whale and Dolphin Conservation Astrid Fuchs, Japan is using the caught whales to prove that the minke whale population is healthy enough for regular whaling. It is reported that the research targets young and pregnant adult female whales in an effort to understand their populations in the Antarctic Ocean. It aims to collect data for the best methods for managing minke populations. 

In Think Progress' interview with biologist and professor University of St. Andrews in Scotland, Andrew Brierly doubts the legitimacy of the science behind the whaling program. He added that "the science is not sufficiently persuasive and yet they go ahead and shoot whales."

Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research confirmed this with The Guardian, citing that it was a "scientific" expedition in the Southern Seas. Out of the 333 minke whales killed, 230 of them were females, and more than 90 percent were pregnant. The agency said the expedition took place without protests from anti-whaling organizations. 

Experts say that Japan's covering up the purpose of the Antarctic mission since the meat still ends up on the market.  

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