Japan Is About to Resume Commercial Whale Hunting

28 December, 2018, 09:44 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Head of Japanese whaling group welcomes decision

Japan has chose to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and resume whaling for the first time in more than 30 years. Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the commercial hunts would be limited to Japan's territorial waters.

In September, the IWC voted down Japan's bid to resume commercial whaling by 41-27. "We continue to hope Japan eventually reconsiders its position and will cease all whaling in order to advance the protection of the ocean's ecosystems", he added.

The move marks a significant break from Japan's shift away from commercial whaling for more than 30 years.

The decision by Tokyo to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which regulates whaling and has banned it, after 57 years as a member was criticised by allies and conservation groups.

The resumption of commercial whaling is an unusual decision for Japan, which stresses multilateralism in its diplomacy, and it sparked swift criticism from environmental groups and others who believe all whales should be protected.

The decision was made at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday after the government decided it would be hard to resume commercial whaling while a member of the global body.

At a September meeting of the IWC in Brazil, Japan attempted to establish a number of measures that would allow the commercial hunting of "abundant whale stocks/species"; as the BBC reports, Japan primarily kills minke whales, which are protected by the IWC but not now endangered. Critics considered the research a sham, little more than a cover for commercial whaling.

And while Australia's actions have been focused on the Southern Ocean, Burke and other conservationists here have condemned Japanese whaling in the northwest Pacific.

The Japanese Government has pulled out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).




The Japanese whaling fleet is now in the Southern Ocean whaling for another season of so-called "scientific whaling", aiming to kill 333 Antarctic minke whales. As for the number of whales to be captured, the government just says it will be calculated according to the formula adopted by the IWC.

The manner in which the government has made a decision to restart commercial whale hunts also raises some questions.

Exit fee means that Japanese whaling ships will be able to resume the hunt in Japanese coastal waters for whales, which are now protected by the IWC.

"Their decision to withdraw is regrettable and Australia urges Japan to return", Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Environment Minister Melissa Price said in a joint statement.

AMCS CEO Darren Kindleysides said, "If Japan leaving the IWC spells the end of their Southern Ocean whaling that would be a win for our whales".

"At the IWC general meeting in September this year, it became evident once again that those supporting the sustainable use of whale stocks and those supporting protection can not co-exist, leading us to this conclusion".

'The scheme to pose as researchers will now be dropped and that means there can be absolutely no justification for hunting whales in an internationally established whale sanctuary.

Japanese Fisheries Agency official and long-time IWC negotiator Hideki Moronuki said Japan would use the IWC's method to carefully determine a catch quota on the basis of science, but declined to give an estimate. Whale meat reportedly makes up well under 1% of the meat consumed annually in Japan. "What's most important is to have a diverse and stable food supply", he said.

In 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan should halt its Antarctic whaling.

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