Vessels set sail as Japan resumes commercial whaling


Japan is about to resume catching whales for profit, in defiance of worldwide criticism.

Japanese whaling fleets set sail on Monday to hunt whales for commercial purposes for the first time in 31 years, a day after Tokyo formally withdrew from the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Under the research hunts, which were criticised as a cover for commercial hunts as the meat was sold on the market, Japan at its peak caught as many as 1,200 whales.

"Japanese are faced with a question whether they are serious about maintaining a whale meat eating culture", said Hajime Ishikawa, 59, a member of nonprofit Whale Laboratory in the city.

In the morning, the Nisshin Maru, a whale factory ship belonging to Kyodo Senpaku Co., and two other whalers left the port of Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, for offshore whaling of the minke, sei and Bryde's whales.

By yesterday afternoon they were back with their catch: two gray minke whales.

According to WDC, Japan captured 333 minke whales in the Southern Ocean during the 2018/2019 season.

The country, which has long maintained few of the species it wants to hunt are endangered, had given its notice to do so in December a year ago - a decision which became official on Sunday.

After a ban was imposed in 1986, Japan began whaling for "scientific research" a year after.

Whales caught in coastal waters shall be brought support for recent native consumption at six native whaling hubs which could perchance perchance be essentially in northern Japan nonetheless consist of Taiji, the dwelling constituency of ruling Liberal Democratic Celebration heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai.

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The IWC declined Japan's proposal to resume commercial whaling of abundant species last September. On Monday, the country officially left the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which regulates whaling globally.

"This means that Japan is now openly declaring their illegal whaling activities".

Conservationist groups like Greenpeace or Sea Shepherd remain critical of Japan's resumption of whaling but say there are no concrete plans yet to tackle the country over this.

Shigeto Hase, the head of Japan's fisheries agency, said: "The resumption of commercial whaling has been an ardent wish for whalers across the country".

Environmentalists said the launch was delayed until after a summit of leaders of G20 major economies that Japan hosted, but whaling proponents have denied this.

The commercial whaling, which will start Monday in Japanese territorial waters and its exclusive economic zones, will target three kinds of whales - minke, Bryde's and sei whales. It drastically cut back its catch in recent years after worldwide protests escalated and whale meat consumption slumped at home.

Humane Society International's President Kitty Block said that the new quota showed only that Japan had entered a new era of "pirate whaling".

Patrick Ramage, director of marine conservation at the International Fund for Animal Welfare told AFP "What we are seeing is the beginning of the end of Japanese whaling".

Article 65 of said convention mandates that "states shall co-operate with a view to the conservation" of whales and "shall in particular work through the appropriate worldwide organizations for their conservation, management and study".