Japan resumes commercial whale hunt after more than 30 years

Pablo Tucker
July 3, 2019

Japanese whalers returned to port Monday with their first pick after resuming industrial whaling for the principle time in 31 years, reaching the prolonged-cherished device of traditionalists that is seen as largely a lost reason amid slowing seek information from of for the meat and altering views on conservation.

For most whale species, the exit of Japan from the convention banning commercial whaling will have few consequences.

The Red List classifies Bryde's and minke whales "of least concern", meaning they are not now threatened with extinction.

Japan's new self-arrogated quota - which could be renewed or changed next year - includes 150 Bryde's, 52 minke and 25 sei whales.

Iceland caught only 17 whales, while Norway hunted 432 for the 2017-2018 season, way below their catch quota of 378 and 1,278 respectively, according to the IWC.

Last year, when Japan announced its plan to withdraw from IWC, environmental activists had pointed out that the goal of the 1986 convention was to prevent the extinction of some species such as minke whales.

The move to commence commercial whaling follows Japan's decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC). In a statement in December after Japan withdrew from the IWC, Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, said that the country was "out of step with the global community, let alone the protection needed to safeguard the future of our oceans and these majestic creatures".

At its peak in the 1950s, 2,000 whales were landed at the port amid growing demand for their meat as a key source of protein in the desperately poor years following World War II.

Nevertheless, Japan continued its research, gathering data it believed would be useful for determining quotas when it reverted to commercial whaling at a future point.

Despite that, Yoshifumi Kai, head of the Japan Small-Type Whaling Association, said: "My heart is overflowing with happiness, and I'm deeply moved".

It's a different story for whales found within Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Nisshin-Maru, the primary vessel of the Japanese whaling fleet which is set to join the resumption of commercial whaling, departue at a port in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, July 1, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo.

Speaking to AFP, 23-year-old Hideki Abe, a whaler from the Miyagi region, said: "I'm a bit nervous but happy that we can start whaling".

Meanwhile, Nicola Beynon of Humane Society International said it was a sad day for whale protection globally, Reuters reported.

One of three species Japan has targeted in resuming commercial whaling Monday is threatened with extinction, and sub-populations of the other two are severely depleted as well, according to experts. It drastically cut back its catch in recent years after worldwide protests escalated and whale meat consumption slumped at home.

Mr. Moronuki says the fate of commercial whaling depends on whether whale meat is widely accepted by consumers since it won't receive as many subsidies as before.

"This is a face-saving way out of whaling, the beginning of the end of Japanese whaling", he said at a recent press conference.

Whaling nations have all said that the practice is part of their culture and should be able to continue in a sustainable way.

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