Endangered species

Japan hunts first whales after ban lifted

written by Oceanographic Staff

Five Japanese whaling ships set sail for the first time in 31 years on July 1st, following a controversial decision to lift the ban on whale hunting.

Two minke whales were brought back to port, the first catches after the commercial whaling ban was lifted. It has been reported that the whale meat will be auctioned at a local fish market on Thursday and later hit shops in the local area, and also possibly in Tokyo.

Despite a ban on the activity in 1986, the hunting of whales continued in the Southern Ocean in the name of scientific research as a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). It has now withdrawn from the IWC so is no longer subject to its legislation.

japan commercial whaling

The whaling ships, which set off from Kushiro and will be joined by vessels from the southern port of Simonoseki, have a permit to catch 227 whales this year in Japanese waters – 52 minke, 150 Bryde’s and 25 sei whales. Under last year’s scientific programme, which was apparently to gather data on population, the catch quota was 333. Since 1987, Japan has killed between 200 and 1,200 whales each year under the ban exemption for scientific research.

“We see the resumption of Japan’s commercial whaling as merely a continuation of the Japanese Government’s blatant disregard of international laws and treaties – a fight that we have been leading for over a decade,” said CEO of Sea Shepherd Global Alex Cornelissen. “If they want to continue whaling, Sea Shepherd will continue to stand with the global community that wants to see an end to whaling.”

Whales were brought to the brink of extinction by hunting in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1986, all IWC members agreed to a whaling moratorium to allow their numbers to recover.

“Whaling in Japan is a dying industry that survives only by the politically motivated injection of massive government subsidies. We have driven the Japanese whalers from the Southern Hemisphere, and now their illegal slaughter continues in their own waters, second in numbers only to the unlawful killing of whales in Norwegian waters,” said Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson. “Our opposition to whaling is global and we will continue to pressure Japan and the other outlaw whaling nations until we achieve our ultimate goal – the complete and total global eradication of the merciless madness of whaling by anyone, everywhere for any reason.”

Photographs courtesy of The Strait Times via Instagram.

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