Japan resumes commercial whaling, seen as face-saving end

Pablo Tucker
July 7, 2019

Eventually, in 2010 Australia took Japan to the International Court of Justice which ruled in 2014 that Japan was not conducting itself in accordance with Article VIII and that its JARPAII program was in reality commercial whaling in breach of the Convention rules. Also flying out of the kitchen is whale sashimi - raw slices of whale flesh, skin or liver. It's worrying this population hasn't shown the same robust recovery seen among other minke whales. This follows Tokyo's recent move to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission.

Meat from the first whales killed since Japan reinstituted commercial hunting has fetched sky-high "celebration prices" at auction.

Workers prepare to unload captured Minke whale after commercial whaling at a port in Kushiro, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan.

Renewing the practice is a win for traditionalists that also extricates the government from its costly and contentious "research" whaling program.

Surveys by Japanese and South Korean fisheries agencies have estimated their numbers at about 1,500, Cooke said in an interview.

The other sub-species is found in Japan's southern waters and supports a local whale-watching industry.

Australia will need to be resolute though if it wants to retain its opposition to commercial whaling.

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

Under its research hunts, Japan at its peak caught as many as 1,200 whales.

He acknowledged activists' concerns over the cruelty of the whale hunt and said "the fishermen are conscious of the fact that the time the animal suffers should be reduced".

Meat from whales hunted by the other fleet in the Antarctic will be frozen and distributed separately. The country's former IWC chief negotiator says commercial whaling may violate the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Moronuki said he hoped whale meat would be reasonably priced so that it will gain popularity in the long-term instead of becoming an expensive delicacy for a limited clientele. Over the years, much of the whale meat from these supposedly scientific expeditions have ended up in Japanese restaurants or grocery stores.

Hideki Abe, 22, works aboard a whaling ship, said the youth of Japan will be key to whaling's future.

For most whale species, the exit of Japan from the convention banning commercial whaling will have few consequences. "But we're really happy that, after 31 years, commercial whaling will restart". On June 29th, about 50 people marched toward the Japanese Embassy, carrying placards and chanting for whale protection. "It is a win-win solution that results in a better situation for whales, a better situation for Japan, a better situation for worldwide marine conservation efforts and is therefore to be welcomed".

Japan stopped hunting Bryde's in 1987, but re-authorised yearly catches in worldwide waters of 50 individuals starting in 2000, again for supposedly "scientific" research. These programs were created to be consistent with International Whaling Commission rules, particularly Article VIII of the Whaling Convention that permitted "special permit" whaling conducted for the purposes of scientific research.

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