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Japan cancels plan to kill 50 humpback whales

Japan cancels plan to kill 50 humpback whales

Japan cancels plan to kill 50 humpback whales
December 21, 2007

Japan has canceled highly controversial plans to kill 50 humpback whales for purported “scietific purposes” (the meat is sold in fish markets) after widespread condemnation from environmentalists and governments. The decision comes shortly following Australia’s annoucement that it would send ships and planes to track the Japanese fleet in order to gather evidence for presenting a legal challenge to Japanese whaling.

Environmentalists welcomed the decision but still criticized Japan’s plans to kill 50 fin and 935 minke whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Japan has killed some 6500 minke whales in the area since 1987.

Annual whale harvest from 2001-2006 (2006 figures are not complete). Graph by, data from Science, background image courtesy of R. Wicklund OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP); University of North Carolina at Wilmington

“This is indeed good news, but one species for one season is far from enough,” said Greenpeace on its “Defending Whales” blog.

Humpback whales are listed under appendix A of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), though populations are increasing.

Earlier this year Iceland called off plans to resume whaling. At the time, it said lackluster demand — not pressure from outside groups — was the reason for the decision. The island nation had faced calls for a tourism boycott after announcing it would end its ban on commercial whaling in 2006.

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