On June 13, the Fisheries Agency started fiscal 2017 whaling for the purpose of scientific research in the northwestern Pacific. Five research vessels left port from Abashiri, Hokkaido, for coastal waters. This is the first time since 1987 for research whaling to be conducted off the coast of Abashiri City. The five vessels will catch 47 minke whales [Balaenoptera acutorostrata] through mid-July. The Fisheries Agency also plans to start offshore research soon.
Collecting age and other information on the whales and measuring the contents of their stomachs will lead to greater understanding of the ecology of the whales.
In May this year, the Fisheries Agency submitted to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) a new plan to catch a total of 304 whales per year, including both coastal and offshore research whaling, in the northwestern Pacific from fiscal 2017 through 2028. In Hokkaido, research was conducted offshore of Kushiro through fiscal 2016. The new plan, however, includes the policy of flexibly setting the waters for research whaling and so Abashiri was added.