Monday, November 30, 2015

Japan whaling fleet will sail to Antarctic Ocean Tuesday

Japan said it will dispatch a whaling fleet to the Antarctic Tuesday after a one-year suspension, defying international criticism and a UN legal ruling that the "research" expedition is a commercial hunt in disguise.

Tokyo has for years come under intense global pressure to stop hunts that opponents decry as inhumane, but the government defends them as an inherent part of Japanese culture.

Conservation group Sea Shepherd Australia said it would use its own ship to follow the mission, which Japan's Fisheries Agency said in a statement Monday would aim to kill a total of 333 minke whales.

The group has clashed with Japanese whaling ships in the past. "Any illegal activity we come across we'll engage, our history speaks for itself," said Sea Shepherd Australia director Jeff Hansen.

The United Nations' top legal body judged last year that Japan's so-called scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean was a disguise for commercial hunts.

Tokyo said it revised its annual hunt, with plans to kill fewer whales than previous years and take into consideration recommendations made by the International Whaling Commission, though they did not elaborate.

"The research ships will depart for new whale research in the Antarctic on December 1, 2015," the Fisheries Agency said in the statement, adding that the research period would run from late December to early March.

The fleet will include a mother ship and three other vessels with a total of 160 crew members taking part, it said.

Japanese media had earlier reported the government planned to resume the hunts.
  AFP -

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