Japan to start commercial whaling again next year – sparking fears Russia and South Korea could follow suit
- Japan will begin commercial whaling again next year after pulling out of IWC
- The nation will stick to its own waters, it says, and will stay away from Antarctica
- IWC ordered a halt on commercial whaling in 1986 due to population loss
- Japan began research whaling instead, but the meat was still sold in stores
22:18 EST, 25 December 2018
16:40 EST, 26 December 2018
Japan has announced it will pull out of the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial hunts next year.
The nation, which has long argued it should be allowed to hunt whales as their meat has cultural significance, says it will not return to whaling in Antarctica though, and will stick to its territorial and economic waters.
While this is a benefit for the Antarctic, it may simply be because the nation is no longer able to hunt on the high seas, where they were claiming to be conducting ‘scientific whaling’ while still a member of the IWC.
By withdrawing from the commission, Japan will not be able to hunt in major waterways, as UN law says all countries must work through ‘the appropriate international organizations’ for conservation.
Japan has pulled out of the international whaling commission and will begin commercial whaling again next year (stock image)
Pictured: A whale is pulled out of the water for research purposes. Japan’s research program has long been condemned because the meat from the animal is still sold off
But Japan will now be able to whale in its own waters with no oversight or consequences.
The IWC imposed a commercial moratorium in 1986 due to a dwindling whale population, which Japan was a part of.
To combat the loss of whale meat, Japan switched to what it calls research whaling.
The research program was criticized as a cover for commercial hunting as the meat was still sold in stores.
Now, Japan says the whale population has recovered enough to resume commercial hunting, and the IWC has become more like an opponent of whaling than an organization aiming for sustainability.
Astrid Fuchs, program manager for Whale and Dolphin Conservation told National Geographic Japan’s decision could have global ramifications.
Ms Fuchs says Japan carries great influence in other whaling countries, and its withdrawal from the IWC could encourage South Korea and Russia to make the same move.