Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Japan aiming to resume Antarctic whaling this year

AP, TOKYO

Japan plans to resume whale hunts in the Antarctic later this year, it said, even though the International Whaling Commission said Tokyo has not proven that the mammals must be killed for research.

The commission’s Scientific Committee said in a report issued on Friday that it was not able to determine whether lethal sampling is necessary for whale stock management and conservation. In April, a commission experts’ panel made similar comments about a revised Japanese antarctic whaling plan submitted after the International Court of Justice ruled last year that Japan’s earlier hunts were not scientific.

The commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, but Japan continued hunting whales under an exemption for research.

After the court’s ruling, Japan sent a nonlethal expedition to the Antarctic for last year’s season.

Japanese officials on Friday said they would submit additional data to support their plan, adding that the nation still plans to resume whaling in the Antarctic this winter season.

“We have not changed any policies and our goal,” Japanese commission representative Joji Morishita told reporters.

Japan would respond sincerely to “scientifically backed comments” in Friday’s report, he said, but accused the document of lacking consensus.

Reflecting the sharp divide among the nearly 90 member nations of the international body, the report laid out both sides of the issue.

Under Tokyo’s revised proposal for the upcoming whaling season, it would catch 333 minke whales each year from this year until 2027, about one-third of what it used to target.

Japan’s actual catch has fallen in recent years, in part because of declining domestic demand for whale meat.

Protests by activist group Sea Shepherd also contributed to the lower catch. The Japanese government has spent large amounts of tax money to sustain whaling operations.

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