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Japan resumes commercial whale hunting

02 / 07 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

For years, Japan exploited a loophole in international rules to continue hunting whales despite being a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) bound by the commercial whaling moratorium that went into effect in 1986. The country has now quit the IWC altogether and resumed commercial whaling. IWC members are allowed to issue whaling permits for scientific purposes. Of the nearly 18,000 fin, sperm, sei, Bryde’s, and minke whales that have been taken under these special permits since 1986, the vast majority were caught by Japan’s whaling fleet in Antarctic, Northwest Pacific, or Japanese waters. Japan’s whaling industry was known to frequently disregard the international commercial ban on whaling, selling the whale meat harvested in the name of scientific research in Japanese markets. After the legitimacy of Japan’s whaling industry suffered a number of setbacks — including a 2014 ruling by the International Court of Justice that the country’s Antarctic hunts had no scientific basis, the 2015 rejection by the IWC of an amended proposal submitted by Japan for scientific research, and a 2018 finding that Japan had broken the rules of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) by taking sei whale meat from international waters — Japan left the IWC late last year and announced it would resume commercial whale hunting. The first minke whale caught under the country’s new commercial whaling program was landed yesterday at Kushiro port in northern Japan, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency, a London-based NGO. Japan’s Fisheries Agency has set…

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