Japan resumes commercial whaling for first time in 30 years
The move was met with international criticism.
Japanese fishermen have set sail to hunt whales commercially for the first time in more than three decades, following Tokyo’s controversial decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission.
As an IWC member, Japan halted commercial whaling in 1988. But it continued hunting whales for what it claims were research purposes, a practice criticised internationally as a loophole for commercial whaling.
On Monday morning three whalers left the port of Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, to conduct offshore whaling of minke, sei and Bryde’s whales.
Five other small vessels also left Kushiro in the northernmost main island of Hokkaido to conduct coastal hunting of minke whales.
The whaling ships have a permit to catch 227 minke, Bryde's and sei whales this year in Japanese waters.
In 1982, the IWC banned commercial whaling, which went into effect globally in 1986. Ever since, Japan has limited its activities to "scientific whaling" — a long-exploited loophole to continue the country's sale of whale meat.
Meat from the scientific whaling was sold on the open market, furthering claims it was a cover for commercial whaling.
Since 1987, Japan has killed between 200 and 1,200 whales each year under the exemption to the ban allowing for scientific research.
Japan will no longer be allowed to continue the scientific research hunts in the Antarctic and elsewhere that it had been allowed to conduct as an IWC member.