The fight to save the Whale

There are many factors that have led to the current endangered status of whales, but commercial whaling has had the largest effect on the endangered status of today’s existing whale populations.

In 2019, a small fleet of whaling vessels caught their first whales in Japan's first commercial hunt in decades, in defiance of international criticism. The whaling ships had a permit to catch 227 minke, Bryde's and sei whales.

Japan's last commercial hunt was in 1986, but it has continued whaling for what it says are research purposes. It has now withdrawn from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) so is no longer subject to its rules.

IWC members had agreed to an effective ban on whale hunting, but Japan has long argued it is possible to hunt whales in a sustainable way.

Since 1987, Japan has killed between 200 and 1,200 whales each year under an exemption to the ban allowing scientific research.

In the past whales were hunted for raw materials such as their oil and meat which was used to make lamp oil, soap, perfume, candles and cosmetics, Cooking oil, margarine and whale meat.

Today small-scale whale killings are done primarily as a way to obtain the whales meat and sell it as food in countries that either loosely monitor commercial whaling practices or by those that use legal loopholes to continue whaling.

In many countries whale meat is even considered a delicacy and may be sold at a premium price.

The ban on commercial whaling had a largely positive effect on improving the current condition of whales, but it remains uncertain which species of these majestic creatures will fully recover and with Japan withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), their future on this planet is not guaranteed.