Friday, 22 March, 2019

Japan to resume commercial whaling

Japan's decision to resume commercial hunting of whales draws fury Today's announcement doesn't mean that Japan hasn't been hunting whales all this time. Read on to learn more
Sandra Phillips | 26 December, 2018, 16:08

Tokyo has made a decision to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC), meaning that Japanese whalers will be able to resume commercial hunting for the first time in over 30 years.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the hunts will be limited to Japan's territorial waters and its 200-mile exclusive economic zone along the country's coasts, and that Japan will stop its annual whaling expeditions to the Antarctic and northwest Pacific oceans.

Commercial whaling has been banned by IWC since 1986, but Japan has long lobbied for the restrictions to be eased. Japan now hunts about 600 whales annually in the Antarctic and the Northern Pacific. "The government of Japan must urgently act to conserve marine ecosystems, rather than resume commercial whaling", Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, said in a statement.

Tokyo has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the body, and has been regularly criticised for catching hundreds of whales a year for "scientific research" despite being a signatory to a moratorium on hunting the animals.

Japan has hunted whales for centuries, but has reduced its catch following global protests and declining demand for whale meat at home.

Japan began scientific whaling in 1987, a year after an worldwide whaling moratorium began.

"Japan now becomes a pirate whaling nation killing these ocean leviathans completely outside the bounds of worldwide law", Humane Society global president Kitty Block said. Third, it will "cease the take of whales in the Antarctic Ocean/the Southern Hemisphere".

"The next great thing about it is that if they leave the IWC, that means the Atlantic whale sanctuary will then go ahead because they've been voting against that for years".

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But Japan will not be able to continue the so-called scientific research hunts in the Antarctic that it has been exceptionally allowed as an IWC member under the Antarctic Treaty.

Despite the fact that Japan officially refrained from whaling for about 30 years, whale meat from time to time could be found in the country's supermarkets and restaurants.

"The declaration today is out of step with the global community, let alone the protection needed to safeguard the future of our oceans and these majestic creatures", said Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan.

Japan is also stresing that eating whale is part of its culture.

A Japanese whaling ship leaves the port of Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi prefecture, western Japan to resume whale hunting in the Antarctic.

Suga said Japan will notify the IWC of its decision by December 31 and remains committed to worldwide co-operation on proper management of marine living resources even after its IWC withdrawal.

The meat ends up on store shelves, even though most Japanese no longer eat it. Whale consumption accounted for 0.1 percent of all Japanese meat consumption, according to the Asahi newspaper.

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