Japan’s new mega whaling ship launches killing season amid alarm at adding vulnerable fin whales to kill list

Humane Society International / Japan

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TOKYO―Japan’s new whaling factory ship, the Kangei Maru, has left port to start the new whale killing season in the north Pacific. The 9,300-ton vessel is capable of hauling and storing slaughtered massive fin whales, a species Japan has proposed to add to its kill list alongside Bryde’s, sei and minke whales. Humane Society International has expressed its alarm at the addition of fin whales, a species classified as Vulnerable to Extinction by the IUCN and the second largest mammal on the planet.

Japan withdrew from the International Whaling Commission in 2019 but continued pirate whale hunting in its Exclusive Economic Zone in the North Pacific. In 2022, Japan told the IWC it killed 25 sei whales, 187 Bryde’s whales and 58 minke whales.

Nicola Beynon head of campaigns at HSI Australia said: “These new plans to hunt fin whales are incredibly alarming. These are the second biggest whale on earth. 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.”

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


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