Japan's whale hunt under scrutiny at IWC meeting

AP News
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Posted: Sep 15, 2014 8:56 AM

PORTOROZ, Slovenia (AP) — Pro- and anti-whaling countries are set to clash at an international conference that opened Monday over Japan's intention to resume the hunting in the Antarctic next year despite a ruling by the top U.N. court.

Japan's controversial plans of "scientific whaling" that could lead to the killing of hundreds of more majestic marine mammals will lead the agenda at the International Whaling Commission four-day meeting in Slovenia's Adriatic Sea resort of Portoroz.

Whaling for research purposes is exempt from the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling and Japan says it will conduct additional hunts on that basis. But in March, the International Court of Justice ruled Japan's program wasn't scientific as it produced little actual research and failed to explain why it needed to kill so many whales.

Approval from the IWC scientific committee isn't mandatory, but any attempt by Japan to resume whaling in the Antarctic after a one-year pause would likely face intense scrutiny.

Japan is expected to outline its plan that will pledge a reduced number and kinds of whales it intends to hunt. The nearly 90 IWC-country members are equally divided into pro-whaling and anti-whaling camps, with Australia leading the opposition to what they say is the killing for commercial purposes — eating meat and producing oil.

New Zealand plans a draft resolution at the meeting that will uphold the U.N. court's ruling and help ensure that no "illegal permits for scientific whaling" will be issued. The International Fund for Animal Welfare has urged anti-whaling countries to support the resolution.

"New Zealand's resolution aims to secure the full promise of the (court) judgment which gives whales in Antarctica protection against slaughter for the first time in more than a century," said Patrick Ramage, director of IFAW's Global Whales Program.

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AP writer Dusan Stojanovic contributed from Belgrade, Serbia.