Japan has resumed commercial whaling a hiatus of three decades. Commercial whaling was banned 1986 by an International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium. However, Japan withdrew the IWC in December. Japan's government has promised all whalers will stay 320 kilometers from its coast. The Japanese fisheries agency set a quota killing 227 whales every six months. In the first days resumed whaling, whalers caught two minke whales, which were taken to the northern port Kushiro. The whale meat was auctioned Tokyo and sold record prices. Eager restaurant owners snapped up the meat at prices of up to $140 per kilo.
Japan has engaged the practice of whaling centuries. Whale restaurant chef Mitsuo Tani summed why he thought the return commercial whaling was important. He said: "A country that does not preserve its food culture has no future." He also promoted the health benefits whale meat. He said: "It is five times lower calories than beef, 10 times lower cholesterol, two times less fat than chicken and it's packed iron. But abroad, people do not know this." However, Japan's return to whaling has brought international outcry. The Humane Society accused Japan starting a "new and shocking era of pirate whaling". It added: "This is a sad day whale protection globally.