Japanese whalers flout international law, clash with environmental activists like the Sea Shepherd Society and fiercely defend their “need” for whale meat – and yet 75 percent of that meat went unsold last year. Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research, which organizes the nation’s whaling, announced that most of the 1,200 tons of whale that it caught and froze didn’t find buyers after going to auction.

That doesn’t mean there’s no demand for whale in Japan – quite the contrary. But the whale caught by the Institute for Cetacean Research is unwanted for a simple reason: it’s not fresh. Smaller coastal whaling programs in northern Japan sell fresh whale meat to communities with long-held whale-eating traditions, leaving the frozen meat to go to waste. Of course, that means the whales caught by the institute died in vain, a fact that likely won’t go over well with anti-whaling activists.

According to The Telegraph, the institute held auctions between November and March in a bid to unload the frozen meat of whales that it caught last summer, hoping to promote whale consumption and fill its own coffers. A spokesman for the institute blamed the disappointing results on food sellers who might fear backlash from anti-whaling organizations. But a report released by the Iruka and Kujira Action Network of Japan reveals that the Japanese public supports whaling missions, mostly out of outrage over the harassment of whalers.

The ICR is known for tense conflicts with the Sea Shepherd Society, the anti-whaling organization that has become notorious for taking bold and sometimes controversial action against whaling ships. The image above, captured by Australian customs agents, shows a mother whale and her calf being hauled into an ICR ship under the banner “Legal research under the ICRW,” the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

A loophole in international law allows Japan to get away with whaling under the guise of “research.” Japanese officials argue that they need to trawl the seas for whales in order to prove their view that whales aren’t threatened, but are actually thriving. Hitting back at Western nations with charges of cultural insensitivity, the Japanese have defended whaling as an important part of their nation’s traditions.

Via Reddit

Main photo credit: Wikimedia Commons