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Australia disappointed by Japan’s return to whaling

27 December, 2018, 08:40 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Japan announces IWC withdrawal to resume commercial whaling

Amy Laurenson, the acting New Zealand Whaling Commissioner said under the worldwide law of an exclusive economic zone, Japan could hunt for whales in an area that extends up to 200 nautical miles of the country.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday that Tokyo chose to pull out from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) starting in 2019 to resume commercial whaling in July after a 30-year pause, local media reported.

The pay off for Japan is that it says it is free to restart commercial whaling in its own territorial seas and economic zones, while calling off the annual "scientific whaling" in the Antarctic Ocean and Southern Hemisphere.

"On one hand, Japan has chose to abandon an worldwide regime, which is lamentable".

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, made the announcement on Wednesday.

The IWC ordered the ban on commercial whaling over 30 years ago.

In 2014, Japan cut back on whale hunting after the International Court of Justice ruled against its Antarctic whale hunting program.

Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru is anchored in Shimonoseki, western Japan, Friday, March 31, 2017.

Japan suspended its hunt for one season to re-tool its whaling programme with measures such as cutting the number of whales and species targeted, but resumed hunting in the 2015-2016 season, capping its Antarctic catch with a quota of 333 whales annually.

"This is heartbreaking", said Greenpeace International soon after news broke that Japan would resume commercial whaling in July 2019.

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The IWC imposed the moratorium on commercial whaling three decades ago due to a dwindling whale population.

"The whaling will be conducted in accordance with worldwide law and within the catch limits calculated in accordance with the method adopted by the IWC to avoid negative impact on cetacean resources", he said.

Australia's IWC commissioner, Nick Gales, told the meeting that there was "little and diminishing demand" for commercial whaling industry, The Guardian reported.

Japan has claimed stocks have recovered enough to resume commercial hunting.

Its global moratorium on whale hunting has been in place since 1986, but Japan has been able to circumvent the agreement because the IWC allows for hunts if the goal is scientific research.

Today, whale stocks are carefully monitored, and while many species are still endangered, others - like the minke whale that Japan primarily hunts - are not. "Their decision to withdraw is regrettable and Australia urges Japan to return to the Convention and Commission as a matter of priority", the statement read.

Japan will lose the right to conduct scientific research under the IWC without gaining any guaranteed rights to continue whaling, he said, potentially leaving itself open to legal challenge. Protein-rich whale meat was a major source of nutrition in the postwar era when it was served in school lunches.

Japan has said the IWC has become more like an opponent of whaling than an organization aiming for sustainability.

Though the government has actively defended whaling, consumption of whale meat at home is on the decline. "Japan hopes that more countries will share the same position to promote sustainable use of aquatic living resources based on scientific evidence, which will thereby be handed down to future generations".

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