Japan will resume whale hunting in 2019

December 26, 2018 | Environment
Whaling: Japan will withdraw from the International Whaling Commission | Photo: Australian Border Force/Creative Commons

Japan announced that it will resume commercial whaling in July 2019.

The country plans to abandon the global ban on whale hunting for the first time in three decades, and one year before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The Japanese government will reopen the whaling activity in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone based on the assumption that certain types of whale have recovered sufficiently.

Japan's decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was already officially and vehemently condemned by Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

"Resuming whaling sets a dangerous example. Many whale species are still struggling to recover from the effects of the mass slaughter that was industrial whaling in the 20th century," notes the British organization Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

"All whale populations are already under threat from issues like climate change, pollution, entanglement, and habitat degradation. The last thing they need is a resumption of large-scale whaling."

Whale hunting has wiped out up to 90 percent of some whale populations.

The International Whaling Commission recognizes three different types of whaling: aboriginal subsistence whaling (with catch limits), commercial whaling (paused since 1986), and special permit whaling (for scientific purposes).

In 1962, the Japanese population consumed around 230,000 tons of whale meat per year. Today, the annual consumption rarely reaches 6,000 tons.

Japan is the third country to defy the ban on commercial whaling, after similar decisions from Iceland and Norway.