Japan to leave IWC to resume commercial whaling

Japan to leave IWC to resume commercial whaling

Japan to leave IWC to resume commercial whaling

Officials in Japan, an IWC member since 1951, say eating whales is part of the country's culture.

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.

Wednesday's announcement had been expected, but conservation groups warn the move will have serious consequences.

Criticizing Japan's plan, Humane Society International said that while it welcomes the end of whaling in the Antarctic and other areas in southern waters, the group believes "Japan's decision to leave the rules-based order of the IWC will place its North Pacific whaling program completely outside the bounds of international law".

But hold on. What exactly has Japan announced? The country will therefore resume commercial whaling in its territories and exclusive economic zones from July 2019, he said.

Influential lawmakers in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's party have long lobbied for a resumption of commercial whaling, and the PM's own district includes a whaling port in Western Japan.

Japan has hunted whales for centuries, and their meat was a key source of protein in the immediate post-World War II years when the country was desperately poor. It has plummeted in recent decades.

To combat the loss of whale meat, Japan switched to what it calls research whaling.

Australia's government, often a vocal critic of Japan's whaling policies, said in a statement that it was "extremely disappointed" with Japan's decision to quit the commission.

A minke whale is unloaded at a port after a whaling for scientific purposes in Kushiro, in the northernmost main island of Hokkaido, Japan, in this September 2013, photo.

"But if we don't explain internationally that whales are increasing. people won't understand", she added.

Greenpeace Japan urged the government to reconsider, and warned it would risk criticism as the host of the G20 summit in June.

"It's clear that the government is trying to sneak in this announcement at the end of year away from the spotlight of global media", the NGO said, "but the world sees this for what it is".

"The declaration today is out of step with the worldwide community, let alone the protection needed to safeguard the future of our oceans and these majestic creatures", said Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan.

What is the current whaling ban?

It had argued a "sustainable whaling committee" should be established, and that there were enough of some types of whale to allow for sustainable hunting, The Guardian reported.

"The government of Japan must urgently act to conserve marine ecosystems, rather than resume commercial whaling".

The whale hunts will abide by worldwide laws and a quota calculated under a method adopted by the IWC.

"The Commission is the pre-eminent global body responsible for the conservation and management of whales and leads worldwide efforts to tackle the growing range of threats to whales globally, including by-catch, ship strikes, entanglement, noise and whaling".

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