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Why have Japan started whaling again?
Japan has just begun commercial whaling again for the first time since 1986 when the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned it. The first hunt has already started and has proven to be very controversial worldwide. So what are the reasons for Japan starting to hunt whales again?
The Japanese hunt whales for their meat and have done for many years. Back in the late 1940s - 1960s they faced food shortages after the war and whale meat was their biggest source of meat. Many in Japan maintain that they reserve the right to eat what they like and maintain that part of their culture, in a sustainable way.
The Japanese fishing ministry has said they are restricting their whale hunting to Japanese waters and will allow the hunting of Minke, Bryde's and Sei whales. Both the Minke and Bryde's whales are not classified as endangered, however Sei whales are but their numbers are on the rise. The whaling ships are permitted to catch up to 227 before the end of the year.
What are the problems with whaling?
So, surely if Japan plan to only hunt whales sustainably there shouldn't be a problem, right?
There has actually been a huge backlash from conservationists. The 3 species of whale that Japan has begun hunting are all still at risk of endangerment and many are concerned that commercial whaling could plunge the species back onto the endangered list.
Previously, Japan conformed to the IWC ban on commercial whales, but were able to continue hunting whales for scientific purposes. Since the ban was implemented in 1986 Japan has killed between 200 - 1,200 each year.
Video from November 2017 - Sea Shepherd's footage.
Want to help the fight against whaling?
There is a petition here that you can sign and share with friends and family. This is petitioning the UN to enforce a worldwide ban on commercial whaling to allow whale populations to increase.