Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Japan resumes commercial whaling after 31 years


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IWC

Mains level : Mandate of IWC

  • Japan has resumed commercial whaling after 31 years, meeting a long-cherished goal of traditionalists that’s seen as a largely lost cause.
  • Japan’s six-month notice to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission took effect.


  • Some countries under the umbrella of scientific research are continuously killing the whales and selling meat and producing whale oil, which has brought various whales under the category of endangered species and are vanishing day by day.
  • Japan, Iceland and Norway are some of the countries recorded with largest number of commercial whaling.
  • Japan was an IWC member since 1951.

Reasons for Japan’s Withdrawal

  • Japan has been practicing commercial whale hunting for past 30 years under a scientific programme, granted as an exception under the IWC ban.
  • Small-scale whaling is traditional in some parts of Japan, but whale meat was only ever popular in the postwar period.
  • Japan has used whales not only as a source of protein but also for a variety of other purposes.
  • Engagement in whaling has been supporting local communities, and thereby developed the life and culture of using whales.

Why whale meat?

  • Whale meat was an affordable source of protein during the lean times after World War II, with consumption peaking at 223,000 tons in 1962.
  • But whale was quickly replaced by other meats.
  • Whale meat consumption was down to 6,000 tons in 1986, a year before the commercial whaling moratorium imposed by the IWC.


International Whaling Commission (IWC)

  • The IWC is an Inter-Governmental Organisation set up by the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) signed in Washington, D.C in 1946.
  • It aims to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.
  • The main duty of the IWC is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which govern the conduct of whaling throughout the world.
  • The body is the first piece of International Environmental Legislation established in 1946.
  • Commercial whaling was banned by the IWC in 1986 after some species were almost driven to extinction.
  • 89 countries have the membership of in IWC and all the member countries are signatories to this convention.
  • India is a member state of the IWC.
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