Japanese Whaling and Other Cetacean Fisheries (10 pp)

  • Toshio Kasuya
Conservation Biology


Background, Aim and Scope

Discussions on management of whales and whaling are factually monopolized by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), resulting in a limitation of information flow to outside communities. With an aim to improve the situation, this article briefly reviews whaling and dolphin/porpoise fisheries in Japan, which is recognized to be the world largest cetacean exploitation.

Main Features

The Japanese government grants an annual take of 22,647 cetaceans of 15 species for scientific whaling and various kinds of active dolphin/porpoise fisheries by the nationals. Further, over 100 baleen whales and numerous small cetaceans are taken in passive net fisheries. They are used mostly for human consumption and some for aquarium display. Results. Sustainability of the take is not evident and some populations have shown a historical decline. The Japanese program of scientific whaling has been reviewed by IWC and its Scientific Committee (SC), although they have arrived at no consensus.


The current scientific whaling program invites arguments from the view points of science as well as concerning the ethics of scientists, economy, and interpretation of the International Convention for Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) of 1946. The scientific whaling and other Japanese cetacean fisheries are benefited from nationalistic public attitude, and ambiguity and weakness of the ICRW.


Japanese cetacean harvest will continue supported by domestic demand for whale products as long as the proceeds can sustain the operation, even with criticisms from outside communities.

Recommendations and Perspective

. For safe management of small cetaceans exploited by Japan, studies are urgent on the population structure, abundance and validity of catch statistics. The results should be open to scientific communities.

International Whaling Commission (IWC) dolphin porpoise conservation whale marine ecosystem whaling 


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Copyright information

© Ecomed 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toshio Kasuya
    • 1
  1. 1.TokyoJapan

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