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Japan is likely to add fin whales to species targeted by commercial whaling

The Fisheries Agency plans to add fin whales to the three species of whales Japan has been targeting since the country resumed commercial whaling in 2019, it has been learned.

After seeking public opinion on the issue, the agency will present its annual catch quotas at a Fisheries Policy Council meeting in June and is expected to make a formal decision in July. The fin whale would be the first species to be added to Japan’s whale list since commercial whaling resumed.

Japan currently harvests minke, Bryde’s and sei whales, which are confirmed to have sufficient stocks based on survey methods accepted by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The agency sets quotas for each species and a total of 294 whales were caught last year.

Fin whales are the second largest whale species, smaller only than blue whales, the largest animals in the world. The agency decided to add fin whales to the list after surveys confirmed they were abundant in the North Pacific. Until June 5, public opinions on this issue will be accepted.


The Yomiuri Shimbun

The IWC declared a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982 to protect whales, and Japan stopped catching whales for commercial purposes in 1988. The country later conducted ‘research whaling’ to investigate whale numbers and other details. Japan withdrew from the IWC on June 30, 2019, and resumed commercial whaling in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zones the following day.

According to the agency, public consumption of whale meat peaked at about 230,000 tons in fiscal 1962 and has hovered around 2,000 tons in recent years. The government has allocated 5.1 billion yen in this fiscal year’s budget to support efforts such as serving whale meat in school lunches and promoting sales by whaling companies.

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