Japan whaling is set to resume. Japan declared this year that it would resume whaling for commercial purposes in the vicinity of Hokkaido Island. On July 1, this practice will resume, which was banned internationally by the IWC, the International Whaling Commission, since 1986. The government of Japan declared its official departure from the IWC five months ago; this will officially occur on June 30.
Along with Iceland and Norway, Japan joins the list of countries that hunt whales “by tradition” regardless of international agreements for their protection. Whaling can be traced back to Japanese tradition since the 12th century.
Iceland left the IWC in 1992 and to date is accused of killing 200 whales a year. Norway also withdrew from the commission in 1993; The Norwegian government allows the hunting of up to 999 whales a year, although the number has been decreasing from 660 in 2015 to 432 in 2017.
While at the IWC, since 1987, Japan hunted whales in Antarctica for “scientific purposes”. It is said, however, that scientific research was the country’s way of covering up the illegal hunting of whales, since whale meat is still sold in the Japanese market. It is stipulated that during that time, Japan hunted between 200 and 1,200 whales each year. After leaving the IWC, Japan will only be able to continue whaling in its own territory.
Whaling also happens in the Faroe Islands, an archipelago that belongs to Denmark but with autonomous legislation. Here fishing is a “community activity” so the prohibition of the IWC has no real effect. The archipelago kills about 800 whales a year.
It is common for hunting to occur also in the native peoples of Greenland, the United States, Russia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (in the Caribbean). These practices are not prohibited in the IWC moratorium under the clause of “Aboriginal Substance Hunting” because they satisfy their subsistence and cultural needs.
Much of whaling is due to the belief that there are “too many whales in the sea” and that they eat all the fish. However, most feed on plankton. Whales are a fundamental part of the marine ecosystem, so their hunting can have serious consequences for it.
According to Greenpeace, in the last century, three million whales have been killed. In the 20th century, they were on the verge of disappearing due to the growth of the whaling industries. Although they are no longer in danger of extinction thanks to the actions of CBI, their slow reproduction process makes the protection of these animals urgent to avoid their disappearance.