Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States disapprove of it, and even though there are bans on the commercial practice and trade of whale products, some nations still practice whaling, and continue to hunt and trade whale products.
Just recently, Japan reportedly killed 333 minke whales on an expedition to Antarctica. According to unconfirmed sources 200 of the whales were pregnant. Despite criticism and the 1986 whaling ban by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), some countries still continue to hunt large numbers of whales each year.
Japan is the front runner of the nations that still practice whaling, as it is deeply rooted in their culture.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW): “Japan uses the provision in the 1946 whaling convention, which allows whales to be killed for scientific purposes.”
Apparently the “scientific whaling provision” is a popular loophole for countries that refuse to stop whaling, and is used as a pretense to continue whaling.
A long time opponent of Japan’s whaling practice, Greenpeace expressed its opposition to Japan’s whaling practice on their Twitter account.
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) March 24, 2016
Japan is considered the “biggest killer of whales,” and its meat is sold fresh at markets and used in meals at restaurants. While the demand these days seems to be dwindling, more than 5,000 tons of whale meat was sold in 2006 for an average of $12.50 per pound.
Apparently the tradition of whaling in Japan was influenced during the eras when the emperors in Japan forbade the killing of four-legged animals and the eating of their meat. Fish was not included on the list of forbidden animals, and whales where considered fish. It is said that in these times whale meat was regarded as an important source of animal protein.
Critics, however, see no foundation for whaling in today’s society.
‘Japan has twisted itself into knots to justify its whaling.’
Apparently, there is hardly any real demand for whale meat in modern Japan, and even though “small-scale whaling is traditional in some parts of Japan […] whale meat was only ever popular in the postwar period.” Younger people these days consider whale meat more of a curiosity than a staple food.
“This is like nostalgia food,” says Japanese studies professor Katarzyna Cwiertka, who is also the author of Modern Japanese Cuisine, according to Wired.
“I am among the kids who benefited from the cheap meat from the whales. My children have, however, no such experience at all […] whale has lost its position among the animals meats, and will belong more to the category of curious foods for the predominant majority of Japanese,” says agronomy professor and author of Japan’s Dietary Transition and Its Impacts, Kazuhiko Kobayashi.