Japan goes whaling for first time in 30 years

Go fish: Japan eats around 5,000 tons of whale meat each year. This is a much smaller amount than it used to be.

Is it wrong for Japan to hunt whales? Yesterday, eight ships set sail for Japan’s first commercial whale hunts since 1986. However, some say this is the beginning of the end.

What’s happening

You can eat it raw, deep-fried, or sandwiched between buns in a “whale burger”. Whale meat has been part of the Japanese diet for thousands of years.

For the last 30 years, hunting for whales was banned. Whalers had to say they were hunting for “scientific research.” Not anymore.

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On Monday, eight whaling ships left the coast of Japan for the first commercial hunt since 1986.

The head of Japan’s fishing ministry said it made him “happy from the bottom of [his] heart”.

Whales have been hunted for thousands of years — for their meat, bones, oil and more. Many species almost became extinct in the 19th and 20th centuries, which led to the practice being banned in 1986.

Japan has fought long and hard to have the ban reversed. Now, it has succeeded.

Whalers will be allowed to kill, in total, 227 whales before December.

Is it wrong for Japan to hunt whales?

Some say…

Not necessarily. If hunting is restricted so that whales do not become endangered, is it really any worse than eating other animals? Besides, whale meat has a lower carbon footprint than pork or beef, so it’s better for the planet.

Others think…

Of course it is! The 30-year ban saved many species from near-extinction. Bringing back hunting could lead to a world without whales, which would be a great tragedy. It is also pointlessly cruel, because most people in Japan no longer like eating whale.

You Decide

  1. Is it wrong to eat animals?

Activities

  1. Imagine that you are about to interview the captain of a Japanese whaling ship. What would you want to know about what he does? Write down five questions.

Some People Say...

“Humans regard animals as worthy of protection only when they are on the verge of extinction.”

Paul Craig Roberts, US author and economist

What do you think?

Word Watch

Commercial
When something is sold to make money.
Extinct
Died out.
Restricted
Limited; only a certain amount allowed.
Carbon footprint
The amount of carbon produced by something. The more carbon, the greater the damage to the environment.
Tragedy
Something very sad.

Subjects

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