In the port of Kushiro, a fleet of ships is ready to start catching ‘delicacy’ whales in two weeks. After thirty years, the Japanese government is once again giving fishermen the opportunity to get hold of the delicacy.
The ships are in the hands of six whalers, who will set up the so-called ‘scientific’ whale fishing. The catch is allowed from July 1, according to Japan Times.
Whaling is important for Japan because of its tradition and economic interests. For centuries the Japanese have been eating whale meat, which is known there as a delicacy. For conservative Japanese, it is also a matter of national pride and culture. They want to decide for themselves what they can and cannot eat.
In post-war Japan, whale meat was still an important food source. In 1964, with consumption of 200,000 tons, it killed more than 24,000 whales. Since then, the sale of whale meat has been falling due to the high price and supply of other meat.
Of the total meat consumption (now 5,000 tonnes), 0.1 percent consists of whale meat. Despite a ban, the catch continued as usual, due to ‘research purposes’. That Japanese practice was condemned internationally.
The whalers are now preparing for a solemn ceremony on the day they set out from Kushiro. Each ship then departs for the area where the Berardius whales can be found at Minamiboso, south of Tokyo, until the end of August. The fleet is expected to meet again in September in the port of Kushiro before they start to hunt minke whales.