Science

Japan resumes whale hunts after 3 decades

Japan resumes whale hunts after 3 decades”

After the whale was unloaded from the truck, workers measured it and poured sake on the Minke's body for a purifying ritual.

Japan has officially resumed commercial whaling today (July 1) after more than 30 years of limiting whale hunts to "scientific" purposes - a policy that still resulted in the deaths of hundreds of whales every year, Reuters.com reported.

Japanese whaling fleets will set sail Monday morning, a day after Tokyo formally left the International Whaling Commission, with a quota of 52 minke, 150 Bryde's and 25 sei whales, the agency said. Shimonoseki is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's electoral constituency.

"My heart is overflowing with happiness, and I'm deeply moved", said Yoshifumi Kai, head of the Japan Small-Type Whaling Association, addressing a crowd of several dozen politicians, local officials and whalers in Kushiro before the boats left.

Officials said the catch of the two minke whales was a nice surprise because they were not thought to be in the area and whalers were expecting Monday's trip to be only ceremonial. "The replacement would be about $200 million dollars and saner minds in the Japanese government insist this investment is non-productive".

There is a fear from some conservation groups that other pro-whaling countries like Russian Federation might follow Japan's example and start commercial whaling again. The IWC bans commercial whaling with a few exceptions. In the lean times after the Second World War, it was considered an affordable source of protein: in 1962, 223,000 tons were consumed.

"The IWC is maintaining its ban on commercial whaling for very good reasons and world leaders meeting in Japan this week should not turn a blind eye to the cruel assault planned on whales of the North Pacific".

In 1988, Japan stopped commercial hunting of minke and sperm whales in Japanese coastal waters following the moratorium.

The 383 figure is about 60 percent of the 637 whales caught annually for research.

The research whaling program lost money for years - 1.6 billion yen ($15 million) in the last year alone.

When quizzed about why he reckons Japan took the decision, he said: "Number one: Not getting their way within the IWC".

Image copyright AFP Image caption Is eating whale meat more ethical than commercially farmed pork or chicken?

"From today, I'd like whalers to catch whales by observing the quota and aim for revival of the whaling industry", Yoshikawa said.

The Japanese Fisheries Agency set a hunting quota of 227 whales for 2019.

The town is also known for dolphin hunts because of the documentary film The Cove. The meat of the killed whales was finally nevertheless used for consumption.

The return of commercial whaling was a "milestone in the history of Shimonoseki", Mayor Shintato Maeda told reporters, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

Mr. Moronuki said he hopes whale meat will be reasonably priced so it will gain long-term popularity instead of being an expensive delicacy for a limited clientele.

Most reports suggest consumption has declined significantly in recent decades - with much of the population saying they rarely or never eat whale meat. "I don't think young people know how to cook and eat whale meat anymore".

Some campaigners, however, have insisted that the stopping of high-seas whaling it the beginning of the end of the tradition.

"It's a good decision for whales, it's a good decision for Japan, and it's a good decision for global marine conservation", he said.



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