Japan has been roundly criticized by many commentators over the past two decades for it's “scientific” whaling program, with many saying the program is no more than commercial whale hunting in disguise. Japanese scientists have finally published data from this program in Popular Biology, and their findings aren’t good: whales are getting skinnier, and global warming might be at fault:
Japan's scientists claim their controversial whaling programme has produced a key finding. Measurements taken from more than 4,500 minke whales slaughtered since the late 1980s reveal the animals have lost significant amounts of blubber, and are getting thinner at a worrying speed. The team says its study offers the first evidence that global warming could be harming whales, because it restricts their food supplies.It seems equally likely that chronic overfishing has also played some part in the decrease in food available to whales as well, but this is not mentioned in the article.
These aren't the first published results from the "scientific whaling" program, but these are the most high-profile findings so far. In 2005 Australian scientist Nicholas Gale analyzed 43 scientific papers produced by the program and concluded that only a handful were relevant and required the whales to have been killed. The others included descriptions of bizarre experiments to cross-fertilize whales with sheep and cows.