WARNING: Graphic

The first whales to be killed for commercial profits in over three decades have been hauled back to Japan, shocking photos show.

Japan resumed commercial whaling yesterday after three decades of abstaining from the practice in accordance with guidelines set by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

The commercial boats that set off yesterday caught their first minke whale by 5pm, according to whale advocates who followed them, and a second was caught not long after, according to The Washington Post.

Last year Japan announced it would withdraw from the IWC so it could resume the practice of killing whales for profit. The country formally withdrew on Sunday.

The move has been met with condemnation from Australian politicians as well as environmental groups and major celebrities who've signed open letters urging the global power to reconsider.

The Japanese have a long history of killing and eating whales, but studies have suggested the popularity and consumer demand for the mammalian meat is dwindling.

Photos have emerged of minke whales being unloaded at ports in Japan yesterday, with their abdomens carved and cut open, while workers and fishermen crowd around the dead whales.

A large whale was photographed being unloaded at a port in Kushiro, in the northernmost island of Hokkaido. Its body was too large for the boat it was loaded on, and its mouth hung from the end of the boat.

Another photo shows a minke whale with its stomach cut open, while workers crowd around it, touching its body and pouring sake on its wound.

A whale is brought to shore to be processed in Kushiro in the northernmost island of Hokkaido. Picture: Masanori Takei
A whale is brought to shore to be processed in Kushiro in the northernmost island of Hokkaido. Picture: Masanori Takei

 

 

Australian officials have condemned Japan’s resumption of commercial whaling. Picture: Masanori Takei
Australian officials have condemned Japan’s resumption of commercial whaling. Picture: Masanori Takei

 

 

A whale is brought down a conveyor. Picture: Masanori Takei
A whale is brought down a conveyor. Picture: Masanori Takei

Japan's outlined quotas for whale hunts include killing 220 whales in the period from October to December this year. This includes Bryde's whales, minke whales and sei whales.

The Japanese whalers have agreed to conduct their fishing in the country's own waters.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Environment Minister Sussan Ley have jointly condemned Japan's decision to resume commercial whaling for the first time since 1988.

"While the Australian Government welcomes the end of whaling in the Southern Ocean, we are disappointed that Japan has withdrawn from the convention and is resuming commercial whaling," the pair in a joint statement on Tuesday.

"We continue to urge Japan to return to the convention and the commission as a matter of priority."

The head of the Japan Small-Type Whaling Association, Yoshifumi Kai, spoke to journalists yesterday, saying he was "excited" by his country's return to commercial whaling.

- with AAP