Japanese whaling towns welcome IWC pullout but protest concerns remain

Japanese whaling towns welcome IWC pullout but protest concerns remain

Japanese whaling towns welcome IWC pullout but protest concerns remain

Japan will resume commercial whaling, a practice it officially ended more than 3 decades ago, and withdraw from the International Whaling Commission, officials say.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshide Suga says the withdrawal will come into effect at the end of June 2019, and that commercial whaling will be confined to Japanese waters and its economic zone, in accordance with worldwide law.

"At the IWC meeting held in September, it became clear again that a standpoint of sustainable utilization of whales is incompatible with a standpoint of protecting them", Suga said.

Australia and New Zealand welcomed the decision to abandon the Antarctic whale hunt, but expressed disappointment that Japan would engage in any killing of the ocean mammals.

Iceland and Norway object to the moratorium and continue to hunt whales commercially without relying on science as an excuse.

"Japan argues that it has a long tradition of whaling, even though Japanese today eat very little whale meat", NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Tokyo.

The environmental group Greenpeace condemned Wednesday's announcement and disputed Japan's view that whale stocks have recovered, and noted that ocean life is being threatened by pollution as well as overfishing.

Despite the 1986 IWC moratorium on commercial whaling to protect whale populations from extinction, Japan nevertheless kills an estimated 450 whales annually.

A whale breaches near a boat in Antarctica. Second, its commercial whaling will be limited to its territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone.

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The decision, some experts said, allows Japan to save the money it spends to support Antarctic whaling while taking a tough pro-whaling stance - a matter of national pride for some conservatives.

"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".

Japan now uses a scientific exemption to kill hundreds of whales a year, but critics have condemned it as a cover for commercial whaling, noting that meat from the annual hunt often ends up being sold.

The Fisheries Agency said Japan plans to catch three kinds of whale that are believed to have sufficient stocks - minke, sei and Bryde's.

A number of coastal communities in Japan have hunted whales for centuries, but consumption in the country surged only after World War II.

The decision to restart commercial whaling has sparked worldwide criticism.

She added: "This is the path of a pirate whaling nation, with a troubling disregard for global rule".

In 2014, the International Court of Justice ordered it to halt its whaling programme in the Southern Ocean, also called the Antarctic Ocean, after determining that the hunting permits granted by authorities were not being used "for purposes of scientific research".

A 73-year-old woman was hopeful that the resumption of commercial whaling would lead to the revival of Taiji, but said she fears "violent anti-whaling activities could increase" in the future.

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