Japan announces IWC withdrawal to resume commercial whaling

Japan announces IWC withdrawal to resume commercial whaling

Japan announces IWC withdrawal to resume commercial whaling

"Regrettably, we have reached a decision that it is impossible in the IWC to seek the coexistence of states with different views", he said at a news conference.

Japan plans to conduct commercial whaling only in areas within the country's territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

However, Japan will not be able to continue the so-called scientific research hunts in the Antarctic that it has been exceptionally allowed as an IWC member under the Antarctic Treaty. "Critics say the practice is a cover for what actually amounts to commercial whaling.It means that whales can be taken for scientific studies and the meat can later be sold for consumption", the BBC says. It defies a 1986 worldwide moratorium on hunting endangered species.

Activist groups slammed Tokyo's decision, with Humane Society International saying Japan would become "a pirate whaling nation killing these ocean leviathans completely outside the bounds of international law".

"The declaration today is out of step with the global community, let alone the protection needed to safeguard the future of our oceans and these majestic creatures", worldwide conservationist group Greenpeace said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan would resume commercial whaling in July "in line with Japan's basic policy of promoting sustainable use of aquatic living resources based on scientific evidence".

Following years of "scientific" whaling, Japan's whalers will resume commercial operations in 2019, according to a government decision.

Two countries including Canada and Iceland have withdrawn from the worldwide bod, with the latter re-joining in 2003 after leaving in 1992.

Despite the 1986 IWC moratorium on commercial whaling to protect whale populations from extinction, Japan nevertheless kills an estimated 450 whales annually.

Today, whale stocks are carefully monitored, and while many species are still endangered, others - like the minke whale that Japan primarily hunts - are not.

Japan is also stresing that eating whale is part of its culture.

Moronuki said Japan is starting with a modest plan because it has to figure out if or how commercial whaling can be a viable industry.

"It's not like we are turning our back on the IWC and abandoning global cooperation", she said. And, it will stop hunting in Antarctic waters and the southern hemisphere.

"But if we don't explain internationally that whales are increasing. people won't understand", she added.

The move comes just months after the commission once again refused to allow Japan to hunt whales commercially. Fisheries officials say that whale meat is more popular with older segments of the Japanese population than among the young.

"With this move the Japanese government is officially turning its back on worldwide cooperation around conservation measures, and one of the greatest conservation agreements ever made - the ban on commercial whaling", said Astrid Fuchs of Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC).

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