Commercial whaling has been banned for three decades. Japan just resumed it with two kills

(CNN) — On the first day of Japan’s return to commercial whaling, two whales were killed and brought back to port.

The two minke whales that were harpooned are the first to be killed by Japan for commercial purposes in more than 30 years.

Commercial whaling was banned in a 1986 International Whaling Commission moratorium. However, Japan withdrew from the International Whaling Commission in December and resumed commercial hunting in its territorial waters and economic zone despite international outcry.

A fleet of five whaling boats departed the northern port of Kushiro on Monday. A separate deep-water fleet was scheduled to leave from the southern port of Shimonoseki the same day.

The Japanese Fisheries Agency published quotas on Monday for the next six months of commercial whaling. Officials insist that they will engage in sustainable practices.

For July 1 to December 31, the permitted catch is 227 whales (52 minke whales, 150 Bryde’s whales, and 25 sei whales).

Before Japan’s withdrawal from International Whaling Commission, it caught 596 whales with a “scientific research” special permit in the 2017-18 whaling season, according to the commission.

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