Speaking at a display of new research involving the tracking of endangered blue whales, Tony Burke, the Australian Environment Minister, used the opportunity to lash out at Japan and its lethal whaling activities. Burke stated that the breakthrough project, which uses acoustic tracking technology, was a sign of Australia’s dedication to non-lethal research, the opposite of Japan and its use of science as an excuse for hunting and killing whales. “You don’t have to kill a whale to study it,” he concluded.
Japan’s commercial whaling industry, already heavily condemned by the international community, uses a loophole in the worldwide ban on the activity by labeling its hunts as “lethal research.” The topic has been gaining attention in recent weeks as speculation was raised that Japan might call off its whale hunt this season due to ship repairs. But industry officials quickly refuted that idea and said the ship would be ready in time for the November departure.
The latest Australian research is part of an effort to learn more about the threatened blue whale, the largest animal the planet has ever seen. The scientists use sound rather than sight to locate the animals, achieved by listening for their song. The overall goal of the project is to help with the conservation and recovery of the species, which there is said to be a population of roughly 10,000 left.