Japan is to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and resume commercial whaling from July, it announced on Wednesday, abandoning a decades-old campaign to persuade the commission to allow it to hunt whales commercially.
- 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.
- Japan has long maintained that most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is part of its culture.It began scientific whaling in 1987, a year after an international whaling moratorium began.
- Much of the meat ends up on store shelves, even though most Japanese no longer eat it. Whale consumption accounted for 0.1 percent of all Japanese meat consumption
- Japan’s commercial whaling will be limited to its own territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone.
- From July 2019, after the withdrawal comes into effect on June 30, Japan will conduct commercial whaling within Japan’s territorial sea and its exclusive economic zone, and will cease the take of whales in the Antarctic Ocean/the Southern Hemisphere.
- The whaling will be conducted in accordance with international law and within the catch limits calculated in accordance with the method adopted by the IWC to avoid negative impact on cetacean resources.
- Such a move would spark international criticism against Japan over whale conservation and deepen the divide between anti- and pro-whaling countries.
About International Whaling Commission:
- The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the global body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.
- The IWC currently has 89 member governments from countries all over the world. All members are signatories to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
- This Convention is the legal framework which established the IWC in 1946.
- Uncertainty over whale numbers led to the introduction of a ‘moratorium’ on commercial whaling in 1986. This remains in place although the Commission continues to set catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling.
- Today, the Commission also works to understand and address a wide range of non-whaling threats to cetaceans including entanglement, ship strike, marine debris, climate change and other environmental concerns.