The Institute of Cetacean Research, which represents Japanese whale hunters, revealed on Monday (29 January) that it would sell 574 tons of whale meat from 40 minke whales, 43 Bryde’s whales and 5 sperm whales caught since last July.

Critics believe this is proof that the Japanese practise of “research whaling” is no more than a veiled commercial enterprise.

Commercial whaling was banned in 1982 by a 41-country International Whaling Commission, of which Japan was a part. The nation relaunched hunting five years later however, arguing that it was necessary for “scientific research.”

Commercial whaling is a profitable business. “Sashimi” raw meat dishes utilise minke whale flesh at the cost of ¥2,980 per kg and Bryde’s whale meat fetches ¥3,760 per kg, according to the Institute.

393 tons of the meat will be sold to food-processing companies, while the remainder will be sold directly to consumers.