Japan has announced it will leave the International Whaling Commission in 2019. While commercial whaling has been illegal since 1986, Japan have been hunting whales legally since 1987 due to a loophole in the law.
What is whaling?
“Whaling” is practice of hunting whales for their meat, blubber or oil. Commercial whaling has been an industry since the 17th century. By the late 1930’s every year 50,00 whales were being killed, in 1986 the IWC banned commercial whaling due to the extreme loss in the whale population.
Where do Japan currently hunt whales?
Currently Japan hunt whales in the Southern Ocean near the Antarctic and in the Pacific Ocean. They are currently abusing a loophole that allows the hunting of whales for scientific purposes and the meat ca be sold later for consumption after studies. There are varying numbers of the whales killed annually by the Japanese depending on where you do your research. According to a BBC article, Japan has caught 200 – 1,200 whales annually claiming they are investigating stock levels.
Can Japan legally leave the IWC?
Yes. They are not bound by law to be part of the IWC but if they do leave they are still restricted by international law. Japan have tried to reach an agreement in the past with the IWC on what would be a sustainable amount of whales caught annually, but the IWC could not agree. The last IWC summit was in September 2018 in Brazil.
Are Japan the only country to hunt whales?
Japan are not alone, Norway and Iceland currently hunt whales. All three argue it is part of their culture and while some whale populations are endangered, the Minke whale which is the primary hunt of the Japanese is not one of the endangered species.
How has the global community reacted to Japan’s announcement?
“The declaration today is out of step with the international community, let alone the protection needed to safeguard the future of our oceans and these majestic creatures,” Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, said in a statement. “The government of Japan must urgently act to conserve marine ecosystems, rather than resume commercial whaling.”
What will be the impact of Japan leaving the IWC?
Right now we don’t know, Japan claim they will only hunt “healthy populations” of whales but until we see the impact of Japan removing their selves from the IWC we do not know. However, we can make One Change Now by campaigning against whaling and donating to charities who can campaign on our behalf such as Greenpeace. If you do use whale products in any part of your life, abandon those products. If there is no demand, there will be no hunting.