Japanese whaling vessel refuels in Unalaska
A Japanese whaling and research ship refueled in Unalaska over the weekend, on its way back to Japan following a 70-day cruise in the Bering Sea.
The Yūshin Maru No. 2 — an infamous 228-foot whaler — has been documented harvesting minke whales in protected waters and accused by conservation groups of illegally harvesting whale meat for the consumer market.
But this time, the ship wasn’t in Alaska waters to hunt whales. Instead, the vessel and its crew were researching whale populations with the International Whaling Commission, a global whaling management and conservation organization.
Isamu Yoshimura, the lead researcher on the vessel, said the sole purpose of the trip was to survey and collect data.
“No catch, only sighting,” Yoshimura said, adding that the crew took biopsies from whales, which are being sent to a lab for DNA analysis.
Yoshimura said the ship encountered many whales during its 70-day cruise, including blue whales, sei whales and fin whales, all of which are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The ship arrived in Dutch Harbor Friday and left for Japan Monday.