The past few years the Japanese whaling program has been one of the hot news topics about the Antarctic region. The Japanese go down every year to kill whales supposedly for scientific research. This year the Australia and New Zealand governments are funding a scientific whaling expedition that does not involve killing the whales. It the newest way to challenge the Japanese way of carrying out whaling research.
The success of this expedition should be a great way of convincing those in the middle that the whales do not need to be killed to carry out the research. In fact I imagine not killing them will allow for more observation of their actual behavior and such, which will allow for more research results. I can understand there might be a few things hard or impossible to research without a dead whale, but at the same time it does not seem that the Japanese are really about the scientific value of killing the whales.
However, at the same time I have not looked at the Japanese side of it to know whether they have any research and would not be surprised if the news is exaggerating the lack of scientific research from the Japanese program. Although, it does still seem that whale meat is almost as important to the Japanese as the research purpose if not more important.
Read more about the Australia and New Zealand expedition here.