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First whale landed in Japan’s new commercial pirate whale hunt

KUSHIRO, JAPAN: The first minke whale in Japan’s controversial new commercial whale hunt was landed at Kushiro port in northern Japan today (1 July).

This is the first of an estimated 227 whales due to be killed in the country’s first openly commercial hunt.

Whaling vessel number CB2 85220, the Sumitomo Maru, owned by Gaibo Hogei Ltd, based in Chiba prefecture, landed the whale at 5pm Japan time and quickly loaded it onto a truck.

Juliet Phillips, EIA Ocean Campaigner, witnessed the landing and said: “It’s a profoundly depressing spectacle to see the first victim of Japan’s first openly commercial whaling hunt in 30 years – landed for sale in restaurants and markets, despite an almost total lack of demand

“‘Today, we bore witness to the first catch of Japan’s new era of commercial whaling; with the sad, slumped carcass of a minke whale being bought to shore.’

‘The whale hunt is targeting internationally protected species and is being carried out without the expert oversight of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) – the only international body with the mandate to manage whaling.”

Clare Perry, EIA Ocean Campaign Leader, added: “By aggressively choosing to conduct commercial whaling outside the purview of the IWC, Japan has set itself up as a pirate whaling nation and this could have very serious negative consequences for the world’s whales.

“Commercial whaling has never been adequately controlled and whales in Japan’s coastal waters already face significant threats ranging from climate change to fisheries bycatch and plastic pollution – Japan should put an end to this unnecessary, unsustainable and inhumane practice.”

Japan’s Fisheries Agency released the commercial catch quota from 1 January to 31 December 2019 of 52 minke whales, 150 Bryde’s whales and 25 sei whales.

EIA has images of the first whale being landed at Kushiro port available for media use in relation to this release on request.



  • Juliet Phillips, EIA Ocean Campaigner, via julietphillips[at]
  • Paul Newman, EIA Press & Communications Officer, via press[at] or +44 (0) 20 7354 7960



  1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses. Our undercover investigations expose transnational wildlife crime, with a focus on elephants, pangolins and tigers, and forest crimes such as illegal logging and deforestation for cash crops such as palm oil; we work to safeguard global marine ecosystems by tackling plastic pollution, exposing illegal fishing and seeking an end to all whaling; and we address the threat of global warming by campaigning to curtail powerful refrigerant greenhouse gases and exposing related criminal trade.


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