Published: Fri, December 28, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

Aust disappointed by Japan whaling return

Aust disappointed by Japan whaling return

"Our whales need countries to work together, not go it alone".

However, by withdrawing from the IWC as a member nation, Japan will no longer be able to hunt in Antarctic waters and the Southern Hemisphere, according to Suga.

The manner in which the government has made a decision to restart commercial whale hunts also raises some questions. I hope they sink before too many more whales die. We are delighted that we will soon have a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary and we look forward to continuing to oppose the three remaining pirate whaling nations of Norway, Japan and Iceland. Commercial whaling operations will begin on July 1, 2019.

"The IWC has become the driving force for global whale conservation efforts in the 21st century".

Tokyo has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the body, and has been regularly criticised for catching hundreds of whales a year for "scientific research" despite being a signatory to a moratorium on hunting the animals.

In October, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species also struck a blow against Japan's whaling industry, deciding that Japan had broken its rules by taking sei whale meat from international waters - again under the guise of research - and selling it commercially in Japan.

"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", Annesley said in a statement.

But Japan will not be able to continue the so-called scientific research hunts in the Antarctic that it has been exceptionally allowed as an IWC member under the Antarctic Treaty.

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.

Japan announces IWC withdrawal to resume commercial whaling
Japan withdraws from International Whaling Commission

It is certain to infuriate conservationists and anti-whaling countries such as Australia and New Zealand, and deepen the divide between anti-and pro-whaling countries.

It's a decision that helps prop up an industry that still has cultural significance in Japan, despite plummeting demand for whale meat. The government maintains that whale hunting is an important part of Japanese culture, and supporters of the practice have accused western detractors of "cultural imperialism".

You just have to look at the reaction that the United States has faced for withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change to get a sense of what kind of criticism Japan could be facing.

Yoshie Nakatani, an official at the foreign ministry's fisheries division, said Japan would still attend IWC meetings. "IWC has become a dysfunctional organisation".

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan would resume commercial whaling in July "in line with Japan's basic policy of promoting sustainable use of aquatic living resources based on scientific evidence".

"I doubt if a withdrawal improves the current situation", he told NHK.

Fisheries officials have said Japan annually consumes thousands of tons of whale meat from the research hunts, mainly by older Japanese seeking a nostalgic meal.

"In its long history, Japan has used whales not only as a source of protein but also for a variety of other purposes", Suga said in a statement. Many younger people don't see whales as food. This seems like a win for whales, at least in the Antarctic, but similar numbers of whales have been hunted and killed around Japan and in the northwest Pacific Ocean under the same special permit since 2009.

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