Huge new whaling ship leaves Japan for first hunt

Huge new whaling ship leaves Japan for first hunt

The new whaling ship Kangei Maru, weighing nearly 9,300 tons, left Japan on Tuesday for its first whale hunt.

This launch marks the beginning of a new era for Japan’s controversial whaling industry. The government defends killing and eating whales as a crucial part of Japanese culture and food security.

The Kangei Maru uses drones to locate and catch whales. When whales are brought aboard the ship, their meat is instantly processed and refrigerated onboard.

The ship aims to catch around 200 whales by the end of the year on its expedition along Japan’s coast. Japan hunts minke, Bryde’s, and sei whales, and wants to expand the list to include fin whales.

The country withdrew from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 2019. Norway, Iceland, and Japan are the only countries worldwide that continue commercial whaling.

Antarctic whales

Hideki Tokoro, president of the whaling company that built the Kangei Maru, described the ship as a symbol of Japan’s resumed commercial whaling era. Japan has a long tradition of whaling, with whale meat as a significant protein source post-World War II.

He said that it is unlikely the Kangei Maru would go to the Antarctic for commercial whaling. However, he added that if the Japanese government requested to hunt in the Antarctic during a food crisis, the company would do it. The new vessel is capable of reaching the region.

“Killing whales causes significant suffering due to the size of the animals, not to mention the fact that considerable time often passes between the first harpoon strike and death,” said Nicola Beynon, head of campaigns at Humane Society International (HSI) Australia.

“All whale species are battling a range of threats in their marine environment, including climate change, noise pollution, ship strikes, and fisheries bycatch,” said Adam Peyman, HSI’s director of wildlife programs.

“There is no nutritional, scientific, or moral justification for killing these magnificent ocean giants, so the launch of the Kangei Maru is a chilling sight at a time when the imperative to conserve rather than kill whales is so urgent,” he added.

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