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First whales caught after Japan resumes commercial whaling

(WJRT)
Published: Jul. 1, 2019 at 7:24 AM CDT
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Today marks the official resumption of commercial whaling in Japan, 30 years after the country joined the

in banning the practice. Last December, Japan pulled out of the agreement and drew international criticism.

Fishermen have already caught two minke whales off the coast of Kushiro, in the Pacific Ocean. Those whales are the first caught in Japan for commercial purposes since 1986.

Japanese officials said the country will engage in sustainable practices while hunting whales, but some conservationists had denounced the country's decision.

The World Wildlife Fund released a

responding to Japan's withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission in December.

"WWF is dismayed by Japan’s decision to withdraw from the IWC and resume commercial whaling," the statement said. "This decision to put commercial and unsustainable whaling interests above global conservation efforts comes at a time when the planet’s whale species are under unprecedented threat from bycatch and entanglement, the impacts of shipping, noise, plastic and chemical pollution, as well as climate change."

Japan has imposed limits to whaling for the rest of year. Fishermen can hunt a total of 227 whales between today and December 31. That number is split among three different types of whales.