Japan officially withdraws from the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial hunting, sparking fears other countries will follow
- Japan will resume commercial hunting of whales from July this year
- Experts fear other members, namely Russia and South Korea, may also withdraw
- IWC ordered global halt on commercial whaling in 1986 due to population loss
Japan has officially left the International Whaling Commission and is preparing to resume commercial hunting for the first time in 30 years.
The country’s withdrawal opens up a one-month window during which the other 88 IWC member states, including Russia, the UK, the US and Australia, can indicate if they also wish to leave.
Japan announced last month that it was intending to leave the IWC and are due to resume commercial whale hunting later this year.
Japan has officially pulled out of the International Whaling Commission and will resume commercial whaling in July (stock image)
Kitty Block, President of Humane Society International says: ‘Japan would like to present itself as the wounded party, forced to leave the IWC because its reasonable requests are not being listened to.
‘But the fact is, commercial whaling is completely unnecessary; in fact, there is no pressing economic need for it and there is plummeting demand for whale meat in Japan itself.
‘We cannot allow one country to step outside of the IWC and recommence commercial whaling.
‘If other countries, following Japan’s example, start to do likewise, then we may see a return to the lawless days of previous centuries and the world’s whales will suffer.’
Experts fear South Korea and Russia, and potentially other countries, may be buoyed by Japan’s withdrawal and inspired to make the same move in the coming weeks.
Japan’s withdrawal from the IWC opens up a one-month window during which other member nations can indicate if they too wish to leave and resume whale hunting. Pictured: A whale is pulled out of the water in Hokkaido, Japan, for research purposes
The Japanese government said last month the country will resume commercial whaling in July 2019 after a 30-year absence.
The hunts will be limited to Japan’s territorial waters and its 200-mile exclusive economic zone along the country’s coasts, and Japan will stop its annual whaling expeditions to the Antarctic and north-west Pacific oceans.
The IWC imposed a commercial moratorium in 1986 due to a dwindling whale population.
The withdrawal from the IWC may be a face-saving step to stop Japan’s ambitious Antarctic hunts and scale down the scope of whaling to around the Japanese coasts.
Fisheries officials have said Japan annually consumes thousands of tons of whale meat from the research hunts, mainly by older Japanese seeking a nostalgic meal.
But critics say they doubt commercial whaling could be a sustainable industry if Japanese young people do not see whales as food.