Japan Launches New Whaling Ship to Boost The Industry

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Japan is making waves with the launch of its latest whaling mothership, the Kangei Maru, a gargantuan vessel that signals the country’s renewed commitment to commercial whaling.

On May 21, 2024, this $48 million beast set sail from Shimonoseki, equipped to handle the biggest catches and the longest journeys.

A Whale of a Ship

The Kangei Maru isn’t your average ship. At 112.6 meters long and 21 meters wide, this 9,299-ton colossus can roam up to 13,000 kilometers, even reaching the icy waters of the Antarctic Ocean.

It serves as a mobile processing hub, allowing smaller whaling boats to offload their catches for immediate butchering, quality checks, and freezing. Talk about fresh seafood!

Hideki Tokoro, president of Kyodo Senpaku, the company behind the Kangei Maru, declared, “We will work as one to maintain whaling culture for eternity,” at the ship’s grand departure ceremony.

A Controversial Voyage

Japan’s decision to resume hunting fin whales, now added to their list along with minke, Bryde’s, and sei whales, has sparked international outrage.

Conservationists argue that these majestic creatures are already under siege from climate change, pollution, and other threats.

Nicola Beynon of Humane Society International (HSI) labeled the move “an appalling step backwards,” emphasizing the cruel, drawn-out deaths these enormous animals endure.

Adam Peyman, HSI’s director of wildlife programs, condemned the launch, stating, “There is no nutritional, scientific, or moral justification for killing these magnificent ocean giants.”

A Whaling Comeback

Japan’s renewed whaling efforts follow its controversial exit from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in June 2019. This body, which banned commercial whaling in 1982, allowed for exceptions under scientific research and subsistence.

Despite the ban, countries like Norway, Denmark, Russia, Iceland, and Japan have continued to hunt whales, often under the guise of research.

In its defense, Japan argues that many whale populations have rebounded, posing a threat to marine ecosystems by consuming vast quantities of fish.

Critics, however, note that while some whale populations have recovered, many remain below pre-whaling numbers and face new dangers from modern environmental challenges.

Japan’s latest push to revive its whaling industry includes a PR campaign aimed at countering what it calls “one-sided anti-whaling media.” They argue that whales now eat more fish than the total human catch, painting the revival of whaling as a necessary step for ecological balance.

A Troubling Horizon

As the Kangei Maru embarks on its maiden voyage, it carries not just a crew but the weight of a heated global debate.

While Japan champions its whaling tradition, conservationists worldwide brace for the impact on vulnerable whale populations already battling multiple environmental threats.

The sight of this new whaling mothership is indeed chilling, reminding us of the pressing need to balance cultural practices with urgent conservation efforts.

Stay tuned as this saga unfolds, and the world watches closely, hoping for a future where the splendor of whales is celebrated in the ocean, not on the butcher’s block.


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