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Japan May Resume Some Antarctic Whaling in 2015, Nikkei Says

Updated on
  • UN International Court of Justice ordered whaling halt in 2014
  • Japan to reduce catch to about a third of previous targets

Japan’s Fisheries Agency plans to resume whaling in the Antarctic for scientific research as early as this year, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

That would end an almost two-year hiatus after the United Nations International Court of Justice ordered Japan to stop its hunt in March 2014, saying it can’t be justified for scientific research purposes.

A common minke whale is unloaded following a research whaling trip

Source: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Japan relied on an exemption to a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling that permits catching the marine mammals for scientific purposes. Conservationists call it a loophole and say the research can be accomplished by non-lethal means.

Japan would limit the number of whales caught to about a third of the previous target of 1,000, the Nikkei reported. Japan has taken more than 13,000 whales in the past three decades. Several calls to Japan’s fisheries agency outside of regular working hours were unanswered.

Australia and New Zealand said they opposed the resumption of whaling.  

“Australia is committed to the protection of whales and we will continue to work with the international community to promote whale conservation and uphold the global moratorium on commercial whaling,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt said in an e-mailed statement.

New Zealand will consider “all options” to end to Southern Ocean whaling, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Todd McClay, said in a separate statement.

— With assistance by Isabel Reynolds, and Narayanan Somasundaram

(Updates with Australia statement in sixth paragraph.)
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