April 7th, 2016. Japan will begin its annual spring whale hunt in the North Pacific on Saturday, which will last till May, Japan’s Fisheries Agency announced.
The Japanese fleet, comprising four whalers, will set sail from Ishinomaki in northeastern Japan with a target to hunt a maximum of 51 minke whales in an area of around 80 kilometres.
The aim of the program, according to the agency, is to study the contents of the stomach and other scientific facets of the captured whales to better manage their population.
Japan captured 541 rorqual whales between December and February under its hunting program in the Antarctic.
Although the country suspended its operations in the area after the International Court of Justice banned whale hunting in the Antarctica, it resumed them in December after introducing changes in the program, including a decision to reduce the catch volume.
Japan, which signed a total moratorium on commercial whaling that came into force in 1986, launched scientific capturing programs the following year, defending they were covered under article VIII of the 1946 IWC Convention.
Japan’s whale hunting programs have been harshly criticised by many countries that consider them as covert commercial fishing, given that the whales captured are later sold for consumption.