Heal Our Planet Earth

Japanese Begin Hunt of Protected Whales in Pacific


from Washington Citizen's Coastal Alliance

(The London Times, July 30, 2000)

JAPAN defied international protests yesterday by sending ships on a mission to catch 160 whales, claiming it was for research purposes.
Critics say the two-month expedition to catch sperm and Bryde's whales is a cover for commercial whaling, which was banned by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986. A limited number of whale-hunting trips for research is allowed.

Both Tony Blair and President Bill Clinton have urged the Japanese government to abandon the expedition - with the White House saying that sanctions are a possibility.

Four Japanese whaling vessels have set sail for the northwest Pacific Ocean, according to Japan's Kyodo News agency, quoting officials from the fisheries agency. The report said scientists would examine the whales to collect data on their habitats and migration patterns - with the meat then being sold.

At the recent G8 summit in Japan, both Clinton and Blair urged Japan's prime minister, Yoshiro Mori, to cancel the expedition.

The World Wildlife Fund called for sanctions against Japan, saying the nation's research was merely a "guise" used to expand a banned commercial whale hunt.

Sue Fisher, of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said: "Japan has made a defiant and aggressive move that, if unchecked, will lead to a further expansion of whaling."

The president of the International Fund For Animal Welfare, Fred O'Regan, said: "This decision is a slap in the face of Clinton, Blair and many others who have been working to persuade Japan to cancel its plans to kill more whales."

Japan killed more than 400 minke whales last year. Whale meat is a delicacy there, and oils from sperm whales are used in cosmetics and perfume.

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