According to the Washington Post, on December 26, Japan announced that they will withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) as of June 2019 and will resume commercial whaling in July. During this announcement, Japan stated that they will hunt in their own territorial waters. This spells disaster for the slow recovering whale population.
Japan started commercially whaling after the events of World War II because that was their only reliable source of protein for that area. After a few decades, the area was once again safe to grow crops again. Japan could stop whaling, but they didn’t. They steadily continued whaling to the point where a few whale populations were on the brink of extinction. That’s when the IWC stepped up and in 1986 put up an international ban on the hunt. No country was allowed to practice whaling, but Japan still continued, this time leaving their own waters and started hunting in the Antarctic. When confronted, the Japanese government claimed it was for “scientific research”, even though the majority of the meat still ended up on store shelves. Since the ban began, there have been 38,539 whales killed by Japan, Norway, and Iceland. More than 22,000 of the 38,539 whales were killed by Japanese vessels.
Now that the minke, sei, Bryde’s, fin and sperm whales populations have increased slightly, Japan announced that they will be leaving the IWC so that they can hunt whales commercially in their own waters. The truth of the matter is that these populations still need more time to recover. Whales are very large animals, so they take many years to reach sexual maturity, which means that the overall populations take years to recover naturally. Humans aren’t the whale’s only problem, with rampant pollution in the ocean and the global warming rate, whales are struggling as is.
This practice is truly disgusting, and the fact that Japan has lied for years, saying that the whaling was only for scientific research while they still put most of the meat that was salvageable on store shelves. The most disgusting part, however, is the fact that their return to commercial whaling is just going to be all for nothing. Whale meat sales have been dropping for years. People just don’t like the meat, and now that Japan is going to be doing relatively unrestricted whaling, they’re going to have so much meat that is just going to be thrown out. The Japanese government, however, has a plan for that. They’re going to try to get the younger generation to enjoy the meat. Whaling is beyond wrong, not only for the fact that there is no reason to hunt and eat these gentle creatures but also for the fact that the populations take so many years to just become sustained again.