Science

Japan to resume commercial whaling in 2019

Japan to resume commercial whaling in 2019

A 66-year-old man who sells processed whale meat products in Taiji said he was unable to secure enough stock in the years when so-called research whaling was disrupted by activists.

Japan confirmed on Wednesday that it will quit the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial whaling next year.

"At the IWC meeting held in September, it became clear again that a standpoint of sustainable utilization of whales is incompatible with a standpoint of protecting them", Suga said.

The small town has frequently faced demonstrations by anti-whaling groups after gaining worldwide recognition in the Oscar-winning 2009 USA conservationist documentary film "The Cove", which was critical of the local fishing industry for capturing and killing dolphins in drive hunts.

The move on Wednesday, which is expected to draw worldwide criticism, came more than three months after the global body for the conservation of whales rejected a Tokyo-led proposal to lift a 32-year ban on the commercial hunting of the mammals.

Whale hunting has become a rare thorny subject in Japan's otherwise largely amiable foreign policy, with worldwide opposition only prompting conservatives to dig in deeper in support of the tradition. Third, it will "cease the take of whales in the Antarctic Ocean/the Southern Hemisphere".

The IWC imposed a commercial moratorium in the 1980s due to a dwindling whale population.

The Japanese government, which began scientific whaling in 1987, a year after the global whaling moratorium was introduced, has long maintained that most whale species are not endangered - six of the world's 13 "great whale species" are classified as endangered, according to the World Wildlife Fund.




"As a result of modern fleet technology, overfishing in both Japanese coastal waters and high seas areas has led to the depletion of many whale species", Greenpeace International said.

Japan has hunted whales for centuries, and their meat was a key source of protein in the immediate post-World War II years when the country was desperately poor.

Japan killed at least 488 whales off its coast, in the Antarctic and the Northwest Pacific during the annual hunt that ended in 2017, according to IWC.

Many members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's conservative Liberal Democratic Party are supporters of whaling, and he himself comes from a constituency where whale hunting remains popular.

By the way, today's announcement doesn't mean that Japan hasn't been hunting whales all this time.

"This is a grave mistake which is out of step with the rest of the world", said Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan.

Tokyo argues that whaling is an important part of Japan's traditions, and Suga said the withdrawal would allow fishermen to "pass our country's rich whaling culture onto the next generation".

Japan has cut back on its catch as Japanese consume less whale meat.


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