Whale Hunting to Commence in Japan

Japan is all set to resume whaling activities after nearly 30 years, in July.

Tokyo, (2nd July, 2019): Japanese whaling vessels set sail for the country’s first commercial hunt in decades.

According to reports, the whaling ships have a permit to catch 227 minke, Bryde’s and sei whales this year in Japanese waters. Japan’s last commercial hunt was in 1986 but it has continued whaling for what it says was research purposes. It has now withdrawn from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) so it is no longer subject to IWC rules.

IWC members had agreed to an effective ban on whale hunting, however, Japan argued that it is possible to hunt whales in a sustainable way.

Reports confirm that the fisheries ministry had set a kill cap for the season of 52 minke, 150 Bryde’s and 25 sei whales which makes a total of 227 animals. Last year’s catch quota, under its scientific programme, was 333 whales.

The “resumption of commercial whaling has been an ardent wish for whalers across the country,” said, head of the agency, Shigeto Hase, at a departure ceremony in northern Kushiro for the small fleet.
He continued to say that the resumption of whaling would ensure their culture and the way of life be “passed on to the next generation.”

My heart is overflowing with happiness” stated Yoshifumi Kai, who is head of the Japan Small-Type Whaling Association. Kai continued to discuss that people have “hunted whales for more than 400 years in my home town.”

As reported by a news agency, one whaler commented on feeling nervous albeit happy that the they had been allowed to resume whaling.

According to the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, minke and Bryde’s whale are not endangered. While. Sei whale are classified as endangered, none the less, their numbers are reportedly increasing.

Although conservationist groups like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd continue to remain critical of Japan’s plans to resume whaling they have said that there are no concrete plans for action against the country.

Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, in a statement said that Japan “is out of step with the international community”, when Tokyo announced its whaling plans last year. Japan argues that hunting and eating of whales is a part of its culture so it should be allowed to continue its whaling practices.

While coastal communities have always been involved with hunting whales in Japan the consumption of whale meat has only became widespread after World War II when other food was scarce.

Sources confirm that Whales were brought to the brink of extinction by means of hunting in the 19th and early 20th Century. Thereby, IWC members agreed to a hunting moratorium, in 1986 which would allow whale numbers to recover.

Whaling countries that include Japan, Norway and Iceland had assumed the moratorium would be temporary until everyone could agree on sustainable quotas. Instead it became a quasi-permanent ban, confirm sources.

Since 1987, Japan as confirmed by sources, has killed between 200 and 1,200 whales, under an exemption to the ban allowing scientific research.

Critics have repeatedly argued that the excuse of scientific research is simply a cover so Japan could hunt whales for food, since most of the meat from the whales killed for research have ended up for sale. According to reports, Japan tried one last time to convince the IWC, in 2018, to allow whaling under sustainable quotas, however, it failed. So Japan reportedly left the International Whaling Commission (IWC), effective July 2019.


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