Australia "disappointed" at Japan's return to commercial whaling


Japan suspended commercial whaling in 1988 in the wake of global criticism, but had not fully abandoned the killing of whales. The country did hunt whales during that time for research and sold the meat of those whales.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Environment Minister Sussan Ley have jointly condemned the move, which came after Japan officially withdrew from the International Whaling Convention on Sunday.

A series of photographs showed a large minke whale hauled up from a whaling boat in a netted harness and placed on a truck at a Kushiro Port, on the Japanese northern island of Hokkaido.

The Fisheries Agency said that the hunts will stay within the waters around Japan and that the catch limit for the rest of this year will be 227 whales.

Whaling has been allowed in the meantime in Japan, but only for the objective of scientific research. Japan began its "research missions" in Antarctica and the Northeast Pacific 32 and 25 years ago respectively, renouncing purely commercial fishing, but using a "scientific exception", tolerated by the IWC.

"Now Australians are looking to our government to step up again to defend whales".

"Now is a critical time for ocean protection", Takada added.

The tradition of whaling in Japan is a long one, with hunting and eating whale meat being an important part of the country's culture. Many people relied on the cheap and plentiful meat to survive. "At the same time, markets for whale meat are continuing to decline". Annual ask for whale meat has plummeted from 200,000 to 5,000 tonnes (the same to roughly 40 grams per particular person).

And hunting all that whale meat is expensive. On Monday morning the decision became final and Japan sent several whaling boats out into the ocean.

High Minister Shinzo Abe, whose district entails the used whaling center of Shimonoseki, has long campaigned to restart commercial whaling, however the enterprise's future is much from definite.

"This industry [of whaling] will sink quickly", he predicted and considered that it is maintained thanks to subsidies, for a population that will end up disappearing.

It drastically cut back its catch in recent years after global protests escalated and whale meat consumption slumped at home.

"What we are seeing is the beginning of the end of Japanese whaling", said Patrick Ramage, director of marine conservation at the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

For a open, Japan will no longer send ships on "scientific" whaling expeditions to the Antarctic, a prepare criticised internationally as industrial whaling in hide.

Environmentalists said the launch was delayed until after a summit of leaders of G20 major economies that Japan hosted, but whaling proponents have denied this.

Sei whales are among three types of whale permitted to be hunted, along with minke and Bryde's whales.

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