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Japan Resumes Commercial Whale Hunting After 31 Years; 2 Minke Whales Already Killed On Day 1

Japan Resumes Commercial Whale Hunting After 31 Years; 2 Minke Whales Already Killed On Day 1

Even though Japan's last commercial hunt was in 1986, they had continued hunting, for what they say were research purposes. This year, the whaling ships have permits to catch 227 minkes, Bryde's and sei whales in Japanese waters.

For the first time in 30 years, Japanese whalers returned to port on Monday with their first catch after resuming commercial whaling. According to BBC, this moves comes along with a lot of international criticism. This year, the whaling ships have permits to catch 227 minkes, Bryde's and sei whales in Japanese waters.

Even though Japan's last commercial hunt was in 1986, they had continued hunting, for what they say were research purposes. A fleet of five boats left the northern Japanese port of Kushiro earlier Monday and brought back two minke whales.



 

 

The whales were then lifted with the help of a crate and placed on the back of a trunk to be taken to a portside factory for processing. Workers in blue plastic overalls were seen pouring Sake from paper cups onto the first whale as a sign to express their thanks and to celebrate their first catch.

Now that Japan has withdrawn itself from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the nation is no longer subject to its rules. 



 

 

Commercial whaling was banned by the IWC, so Japan gave the Commission six months' notice that it was withdrawing from the IWC, and the move took effect on Sunday.

Even though members of the IWC have always maintained that the ban on whale hunting was effective, Japan argued that there were ways to hunt whales in a sustainable way. The fisheries ministry says the hunt will stay well within the borders of the nation's exclusive economic zone.



 

 

They also added that the catch quota for the rest of this year will be 227 whales, which is much lesser than the 637 that Japan hunted in the Antarctic and the northwestern Pacific for its research program in recent years.

"The resumption of commercial whaling has been an ardent wish for whalers across the country," the head of the agency, Shigeto Hase, said at a departure ceremony in northern Kushiro for the small fleet.



 

 

He said the resumption of whaling would ensure "the culture and way of life will be passed on to the next generation." Yoshifumi Kai, head of the Japan Small-Type Whaling Association said, "My heart is overflowing with happiness, and I'm deeply moved. People have hunted whales for more than 400 years in my hometown." One whaler was quoted as saying by BBC before setting sail that "I'm a bit nervous but happy that we can start whaling."



 

 

"I don't think young people know how to cook and eat whale meat anymore. I want more people to try to taste it at least once," he added. A list by IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows that minke and Bryde's whale are not endangered.

Sei whales are classified as endangered, but their numbers are slowly increasing. Even though conservationist groups like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd are critical of Japan for resuming whaling, they say they currently have no concrete plans for actions against the nation. 



 

 

"This is a sad day for whale protection globally," said Nicola Beynon of Humane Society International, accusing Japan of beginning a "new and shocking era of pirate whaling". Japan "is out of step with the international community", Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, said in a statement when Tokyo announced its whaling plans last year.

Similarly to other nations that indulge in whaling, Japan justifies it by saying hunting and eating whales are part of its culture.



 

 

Whales were almost at the brink of extinction in the 19th and early 20th Century. So, in 1986, all the members of the IWC agreed upon hunting abeyance so that the whales could increase in number. Whaling countries assumed the ban would be temporary, but they were disappointed to know it was more of a quasi-permanent ban. Since 1987, Japan has killed between 200 and 1,200 whales each year under an exemption to the ban that allows hunting for scientific research.



 

 

Critics claim this is a tactic used by the Japanese as it is ultimately a source of food for them because the whales caught for research purposes come back to them, as the meat from those whales did end up for sale.

In 2018, Japan tried to convince the IWC to allow whaling under sustainable quotas for one last time but failed. So it left the body, effective from July 2019.



 

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