Japan whale hunting: ‘By-catch’ rule highlighted after minke death

A video of the final 20 minutes of a whale’s life at the hands of Japanese fishermen sent a ripple of shock through the world.

But activists say the footage of the whale being slowly drowned, after becoming trapped in nets, has highlighted a legal loophole used to kill dozens of whales each year.

The mammal was considered “by-catch” – a whale no one set out to catch, but just happened to swim into the wrong place, at the wrong time.

The mammal’s death has exposed the gaping chasm between Japan and the world when it comes to whale hunting: activists see a cruel and avoidable death, but the fishermen see a gift from the sea.

Japan – like many other nations around the world – has a centuries-long tradition of whale hunting. After World War 2, as the country struggled to feed its population, whale meat became a staple of the Japanese. But for those who support whale hunting, it goes further than food on the plate: it is a source of national pride.

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