Japan seeks to resume Antarctic whaling next year after int'l court rejected past program

IndustriesAssociated Press

Japan is seeking to resume Antarctic whaling next year under a revised research program that would involve fewer killings and only minke whale, following the U.N. top court's rejection to an earlier program, fisheries officials said Wednesday.

The Antarctic whale hunt is one of two research whaling programs that Japan has conducted since a 1986 international ban on commercial whaling. In March, the International Court of Justice ruled the Antarctic program wasn't scientific as Japan had claimed and must stop.

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Japan's Fisheries Agency said Wednesday that a new program was being developed for fiscal 2015 on, for submission to the International Whaling Commission's scientific committee around November. The agency details of catch targets were still being finalized.

The new program will address the problems cited in the ruling, including a catch target too high for an actual catch, lack of consideration for non-lethal research, and murkiness in determining the sample size, an agency official said on condition of anonymity, citing department rules. Japan also plans to take two whale species — fin and humpbacks — off the catch list after hardly catching them since their addition in 2005.

Japan will go to the Antarctic later this year, but only for nonlethal research, the official said.

Opponents say Japan's research hunt is a cover for commercial whaling because whale meat from the expeditions is sold for commercial consumption at home.