Japanese has recently resumed commercial whaling business, and within hours after lifting of a 31-year ban, they made their first catch.
Domestic consumption of whale meat has been a Japanese tradition for centuries, and it was particularly important as a source of protein in the post-war years.
Recently, the Japanese government has revived the whaling industry despite the criticisms and an increase in disinterest in whale meat among many people.
In the 1960s, consumption of whale meat was approximately 200,000 tonnes every year. However, in 1986, a year before the banning of commercial whaling, whale meat consumption had dropped to 6,000 tonnes.
Japan then joined the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986 to allow the whale population to increase.
Though the pact was temporal, Japan grew impatient with the policy and withdrew from the Commission in December last year.
But the ban was lifted on July 1st, 2019, and it has consequently outraged international whale conservationists.
President of Humane Society International, Kitty Block, based in the UK, said:
“Japan leaving the IWC and defying international law to pursue its commercial whaling ambitions is renegade, retrograde and myopic.”
“It is undermining its international reputation for an industry whose days are so clearly numbered, to produce a product for which demand has plummeted.”
Despite international criticism, the withdrawal of the whaling ban was celebrated by whale industry actors who revealed that they had been ‘long-waiting’ for the country to return to the tradition.
Yoshifumi Kai, head of the Japan Small-Type Whaling Association said after the first whale catch:
“Today is the best day. It was worth waiting for 31 years.”
“This is a small industry, but I am proud of hunting whales. People have hunted whales for more than 400 years in my home town.”
After the withdrawal of the ban, the Japanese were excited about to go whaling.
Five vessels equipped with harpoons left the town of Kushiro in northern Japan while other three boats left Shimonoseki in south-western Japan right on the morning the ban lift took effect, The Guardian reported.
Two hours after the vessels left the shores, they returned with two grey minke whales, and one of them was more than 26 feet.
Following Japan’s withdrawal from the IWC, whalers can now resume commercial whaling limited to the country’s exclusive economic zones.
Whaling is a sensitive issue in Japan, where whale meat is a cherished cultural tradition.
Japan isn’t the first country to resume commercial whaling. Norway and Iceland are also openly against the IWC’s ban.