Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Putting Technology Towards Continuing to Kill Endangered Whales: Japan Invents Super-Harpoon to Kill Whales

So are they proud about this? You bet they are. They love to kill whales and then eat them. They love it so much they actually will be killing endangered whales and did a unilateral break with an international consensus to protect them. They just love to kill whales.

Consider the following from the article below:

Japan announced last year that its whaling fleet would kill up to 50 endangered humpback whales and 50 fin whales, along with the 935 minke whales that it would catch within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary around Antarctica this season. Tokyo does not recognise the sanctuary.

[This is after] Japan’s unilateral decision to break with an international consensus to protect them.

[They use] a fragmentation harpoon, equipped with an enlarged charge of high explosive, to help to slaughter endangered whales in the seas around Antarctica.

The explosive harpoons hurl shards of metal through the whale’s body to sever major nerves and blood vessels and so cause rapid death.

Nowadays, whales that do not die immediately are supposed to be shot in the head with large-calibre rifles. However, according to Greenpeace campaigners who witnessed such incidents, some are dragged backwards until they drown.

According to the International Whaling Commission, it can take up to 14 minutes for a whale that has had a grenade explode inside its body to die.

Japan invents super-harpoon to kill whales

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2015111,00.html

Jonathan Leake and Julian Ryall

JAPANESE whalers are testing a high-tech fragmentation harpoon, equipped with an enlarged charge of high explosive, to help to slaughter endangered whales in the seas around Antarctica.

The device is being used to kill humpback and fin whales, after Japan’s unilateral decision to break with an international consensus to protect them.

The revelation comes just a week after Britain was held spellbound by attempts to rescue a bottlenose whale that became disoriented in the Thames. It died of dehydration.

The explosive harpoons hurl shards of metal through the whale’s body to sever major nerves and blood vessels and so cause rapid death.

Experts from Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research are aboard the whaling fleet of eight catcher boats plus support vessels to determine the effectiveness of the super-harpoon.

Masayuki Komatsu, executive director of the Japan Fisheries Research Agency, said that standard harpoons, used to kill minke whales, could not ensure a swift death for larger whales.

“Because new species have been added to the research project this year which are larger than a minke whale, we thought we would need a bigger grenade on the end of the harpoon to ensure the killing is instantaneous,” he said.

The move has infuriated Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd, a more radical group, which regard it as a step towards the resumption of commercial whaling.

To international condemnation, Japan announced last year that its whaling fleet would kill up to 50 endangered humpback whales and 50 fin whales, along with the 935 minke whales that it would catch within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary around Antarctica this season. Tokyo does not recognise the sanctuary.

“This is commercial whaling in disguise, not a scientific programme,” said Mizuki Kitana, a spoksewoman for Greenpeace Japan in Tokyo. “When the ships return to Japan, the meat will go straight to market even though most people in Japan never eat whale.

“The fisheries agency already has plenty of whale meat in stock and it’s clear they are trying to expand the market and get more whale back on menus,” she said.

The new weapon uses a “warhead” redesigned to penetrate the thickest layers of skin, blubber and bone. The body of the harpoon has also been redesigned, using research from battlefield weapons, so that it shatters into sharper fragments.

“This is the new, advanced version of the harpoon grenade and a big improvement on previous versions,” said Shigeko Misaki, an author who specialises in whaling issues and was until recently an official of the Japan Whaling Association.

“If the grenades that used to be fired missed the target they just prolonged the whale’s death, so this grenade is a far more humane method,” she said.

However, the environmental groups monitoring the fleet say that the harpoons do not always work as intended so the animals can take a long time to die.

“Our campaigners have watched the harpooners in action and say that death is seldom instantaneous,” said Kitana.

According to the International Whaling Commission, it can take up to 14 minutes for a whale that has had a grenade explode inside its body to die.

Mortally wounded whales used to be electrocuted via another harpoon fired into the body that would shock the heart, but this method was outlawed by the International Whaling Commission in 2001.

Nowadays, whales that do not die immediately are supposed to be shot in the head with large-calibre rifles. However, according to Greenpeace campaigners who witnessed such incidents, some are dragged backwards until they drown.

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