Japan Likely to Add Fin Whales to Species Targeted by Commercial Whaling

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Fisheries Agency

The Fisheries Agency intends to add fin whales to the three species of whale that Japan has targeted since the nation resumed commercial whaling in 2019, it has been learned.

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

Japan currently catches 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 last year a total of 294 whales were caught.

Fin whales are the second-largest species of whale, smaller only than blue whales, which are the largest animals in the world. The agency decided to add fin whales to the list after surveys confirmed there were plentiful stocks of them in the northern Pacific Ocean. Public opinions will be accepted on this issue until June 5.

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 nation later conducted “research whaling” to examine whale numbers and other details. Japan withdrew from the IWC on June 30, 2019 and resumed commercial whaling the next day in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.

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