Japanese Whale Fishing May Affect Alaskan Natives

Japan's decision to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) could have consequences for Alaskan natives, who survive on such fishing.

Japan announced last month that it is leaving the commission to resume commercial hunting for the first time in 30 years, the Alaskan Energy Desk reported on Friday.

The international commission banned commercial hunting in the 1980 decade, when the whale population declined.

"It would be in our best interest for Japan to remain at the IWC," said John Hopson Jr., chair of the Alaska Eskimo Whale Commission. "They were a strong ally of ours in getting our quota."

The international commission establishes the quota of subsistence hunting in Alaska.

Support for alaska natives may be lessened if other countries follow Japan's lead and leave the international commission, said Jessica Lefevre, a lawyer for the Alaska Eskimo Whale Commission.

The commission approved a rule change last year that made renewal of hunting for Aboriginal automatic subsistence under certain conditions. The absence of Japan in the commission could make the rule change less safe, Lefevre said.

"The main vulnerability for us is that automatic renewal can be challenged at some point in the future if the balance of power within the CBI, given the exit from Japan, changes more towards the anti-whaling coalition," Lefevre said.

After the commercial ban on whaling, Japan continued to hunt for whales, even endangered species. Japan now plans to end the much-criticized practice, but intends to allow commercial hunting in its territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone of 320 kilometers along its shores.

Source: Asahi

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