Japan launches new mission to hunt 60 minke whales
Japan launched a new whaling mission today to catch 60 minke whales off the coast of their country, saying they needed them for research.
Greenpeace has condemned the move saying that they can research them without killing them, and citing evidence that Japanese ships just returned last month after catching 680 whales.
"It doesn't matter whether it's 60 or 680 whales, it's too many," said Greenpeace International spokesman Greg McNevin. "They can perfectly well study whales without killing them."
Japan hunts whales using a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling that allows "lethal research" on the mammals, and makes no secret of the fact that the animals' meat is then served as food.
"The purpose of the research is to collect basic data for resuming sustainable commercial whaling in the future," Hiroko Furukawa, an official at Japan's Fisheries Agency, told AFP on Tuesday.
This whaling expedition will last until late May.
There is a new International Whaling Commission's annual meeting in June and it will discuss whetehr to allow Japan to take part in commercial whaling any more.
Japan says they are insulted that they would not be allowed to continue this tradition and has threatened to leave the Commission.