Japanese whaling towns welcomed Wednesday the government's decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission, but some local residents voiced concern that it could lead to an escalation in protests.

"It is a major decision that will protect domestic fishermen who live on whaling," Kazutaka Sangen, mayor of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, said about the decision. "We greatly appreciate it."

The small town in western Japan has frequently faced demonstrations by anti-whaling groups after gaining international attention in the Oscar-winning 2009 U.S. conservationist documentary film "The Cove," which was critical of the local fishing industry for killing and capturing dolphins in drive hunts.

(Fishing boats return to a port in Taiji on Sept. 1, 2017, when dolphin and small whale hunts started)

Wakayama Gov. Yoshinobu Nisaka released a statement supporting the government's decision, saying that "the use of cetaceans each country has had through the ages should be respected as long as their resources are not threatened."

A 66-year-old man who sells processed whale meat products in Taiji said he was unable to secure enough stock in the years when so-called research whaling was disrupted by activists.

"Once commercial whaling resumes, I believe supply (of whale meat) will stabilize," he said.

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A 73-year-old woman was hopeful that the resumption of commercial whaling would lead to the revival of Taiji, but said she fears "violent anti-whaling activities could increase" in the future.

Local police said they have received no reports of trouble so far in the wake of the government's formal announcement, but they are on alert.

The reaction was also mixed in the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, home to the whaling district of Ayukawa.

Tomiji Saito, the deputy head of a local tourism association and the organizer of a whaling festival, said Japan's restart of commercial whaling for the first time in about 30 years is good news.

Saito said many residents in the district are looking forward to the hoped-for benefits linked to the industry's restart, saying it may increase employment, revive the industry and allow them to eat more whale meat.

But the 58-year-old went on, saying, "There are worries about whether we can secure enough personnel or places to distribute."

While noting that the number of people who have the skills to butcher whales has declined over the past 30 years, he said, "From now on, each company in the Ayukawa district will have to make its own efforts. I hope it will take off."

Hiroshi Kameyama, mayor of Ishinomaki, said the government's IWC withdrawal decision was a "big surprise."

"As there may be international criticism, I expect (the government) to try to gain the understanding of anti-whaling nations," he said, adding he hopes whaling for commercial use will be carried out under appropriate resource management in a similar manner to when the country's so-called research whaling was conducted.

Hiroya Ebina, mayor of Kushiro in Hokkaido, pointed out the importance of looking into the relationship between whales and fishery resources, which some say are decreasing partly because they are eaten by whales.

The city was once thriving as a major base of commercial whaling ships. It is now one of the ports for so-called research whaling.

"Even after the withdrawal, I hope both whales and other fishery resources can be used sustainably under proper management, based on the accumulated data," Ebina said.