Whaling Mother Ship Built in Japan for 1st Time in 73 Years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Kangei Maru is seen sailing off the coast of Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Friday.

SHIMONOSEKI, Yamaguchi (Jiji Press) — A ceremony to mark the completion of Japan’s first new domestically built whaling mother ship in 73 years was held in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Friday.

The Kangei Maru, the world’s only whaling fleet mother ship, owned by Tokyo-based Kyodo Senpaku Co., is set to succeed the Nisshin Maru, which wrapped up its decades-long operations in November last year.

The cutting-edge new vessel, which weighs some 9,300 tons and is 112.6 meters long and 21 meters wide, can haul up 70-ton fin whales, two to three times larger than Bryde’s and sei whales loaded by the Nisshin Maru, because its slipway has a shallower slope than the predecessor’s.

Since 1991, the Nisshin Maru has hauled up 17,072 whales caught by catcher boats and processed them for research and commercial purposes. While operating in the Antarctic Ocean, it was rammed by the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd.

Japan resumed commercial whaling after quitting the International Whaling Commission in 2019, but whale meat consumption in the country has remained sluggish.

“It’s important to protect marine resources, and we are the ones responsible for that,” Kyodo Senpaku President Hideki Tokoro told a press conference in the western port city. “I believe that continuing (whaling) will benefit both Japan and the world.”