Namely, Japan’s import and sale of sei whale products from its whaling programme in the North Pacific has been censured as illegal by CITES.

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Sei whales are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), meaning that international commercial trade in their products is banned.

CITES almost unanimously decided that Japan was violating the convention by landing thousands of tonnes of sei whale meat for primarily commercial purposes.

The Committee also agreed that Japan will have to take immediate action to address this issue and report its actions by 1 February 2019. If the Committee rejects Japan’s plan it could recommend that the other 182 governments impose trade sanctions on Japan.

CITES's ban of the commercial nature of Japan’s North Pacific sei whale hunt comes after a 2014 judgment by the International Court of Justice, which decided that Japan’s Antarctic whaling was not for scientific purposes. Specifically, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) noted that Japan’s whaling was not scientifically justified and voted to defeat the country’s attempts to resume commercial whaling.