Japan Goes Whaling – level 3
The International Whaling Commission, or IWC, stopped commercial whaling back in 1986 after the practice drove many whale species to the brink of extinction.
Whales could still be killed but only if the killing served a scientific purpose, although critics said that the program was a cover for illegal poaching.
Last year, Japan said that it was pulling out of the IWC, and it officially resumed commercial whaling last Monday when five small whaling ships set sail. They are hunting for three whale species, two of which are listed as endangered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Japan says that whaling is part of its culture dating back to the 12th century, and the Japanese Fisheries Agency set a number of 227 whales per year to prevent overfishing.
Difficult words: species (an animal kind), brink of extinction (the point when almost all of the species is dead), poach (illegally catch an animal).
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