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New whale hunting ship leaves port as the whaling season begins in Japan

Japanese whaling ship

The whale hunting season in Japan has got underway following the launch today of the industry’s new whaling ship, the Kangei Maru, which departed from the port of Shimonoseki.

The new ‘mother’ ship is 112m long, weighs just under ten tonnes and replaces the aging ‘Nisshin Maru’. The floating slaughterhouse will operate at sea with the rest of the whaling fleet for around eight months and has the capability to store up to 600 tonnes of whale meat onboard.

The eye-watering cost of building the Kangei Maru is estimated to be around 7.5 billion yen (50 million dollars). Low demand for whale meat means that a large amount of public funding will have had to come from government subsidies to complete the build, and makes the whole project even more questionable.
The environmental cost in terms of whales cruelly slaughtered, and their ability to help fight climate breakdown by keeping the ocean healthy, will also be huge.

This year’s hunt may include fin whales, which Japan recently decided it will add to the list of whale species it wants to kill.

Last season, the Japanese whaling fleet killed 83 minke whales, 187 Bryde's whales and 24 sei whales.

‘Given the increasing threats posed by climate change, marine pollution, shipping traffic, underwater noise and overfishing, the hunt for endangered fin whales cannot possibly be sustainable,’ says Katrin Matthes, WDC’s campaign coordinator to end whaling in Japan. ‘Fin whales already have difficulties reproducing at a rate that allows populations to recover. Experience shows that it is mainly slow-swimming, pregnant females that fall victim to hunting. If Japan starts hunting fin whales, this could mean the end of the species in a short time’. 

We are campaigning at various political forums, such as the International Whaling Commission (IWC), for the continuation of the international ban on whaling. Together with local organisations, we are trying to convince the populations of the remaining whaling countries (Iceland, Norway and Japan) to exert pressure on their governments and demand an end to the hunting of whales and dolphins.  

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