Japan will resume commercial whaling today, 30 years after banning the practice, as five ships head out to hunt.
In 1982 the country signed up to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), pledging to only hunt whales for ‘scientific’ reasons, however in December last year they decided to go back on the agreement.
Today (July 1), after a short ceremony to pray for a bountiful catch and safety at sea, the ships will leave from a port in Kushiro, on the northern island of Hokkaido, to kill minke, sei and Bryde’s whales for profit.
We've joined celebrities’ @rickygervais, @stephenfry, @SteveBackshall, @lizbonnin & @JaneGoodallInst call for #G20 action over the Japanese government’s return to commercial #whaling.@JPN_PMO #PleaseStopKillingWhales.
— Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) (@whalesorg) June 28, 2019
The looming mission drew condemnation as Japan and its pro-whaling Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, prepared to host G20 leaders in Osaka.
The G20 is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union.
Conservation groups and celebrities, including Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais, urged G20 leaders to stage an ‘intervention’ at the summit and publicly condemn commercial whaling in a letter shared by the The Link Whales Group on Friday.
Whales are set to suffer agonising deaths as Japan leaves the IWC & returns to commercial whaling. We’ve joined global NGOs & @rickygervais @stephenfry etc to ask #G20 for a #WhalingIntervention at this weekend’s #G20OsakaSummit RT if you support 🐳 https://t.co/g32QR9BqN4 pic.twitter.com/84hpRuV5wp
— Humane Society Int'l (@HSIGlobal) June 28, 2019
We ask you to send a public message to your Summit’s honourable hosts that your countries object to Japan’s commercial whaling intentions in the strongest possible terms.
The international ban on commercial whaling, agreed by the IWC in 1982, applies to territorial waters as well as the high seas. It is one of the world’s most important conservation and welfare measures and has saved several populations from extinction.
It has proved of vital importance in protecting the world’s great whales, enabling the gradual recovery of whale populations after decades of human-driven, catastrophic decline.
Japan’s government reportedly decided not reveal the hunt’s quota until after the G20.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.