Groups like the World Wildlife Fund have long criticized Japan’s actions as the exploitation of a loophole, especially since Japan has always agreed to take part in the ban.
The new order against Japan results from a suit brought against the country by Australia, who asserted that Japan repeatedly failed to provide convincing evidence as to why their scientific study of the whales required killing. Leah Gerber, a marine mammal biologist at Arizona State, argues that the type of research Japan claimed to be performing on the whales the study of information such as reproduction rates and diet could easily be done with simple biopsies on the blubber of the animals. The large number of whales taken by the country was also never justified.
Gerber also pointed out that while the Japanese whalers did collect the animals organs to conduct research, the majority of the whale would go to market and be sold for consumption.
Unfortunately, the new ban only applies to medium and large sized whales, and smaller sea creatures like dolphins, may still be hunted. Japan’s controversial killing of dolphins was well documented in the film Dolphin Cove, and there appears to be no end in sight for these practices.