Thursday, February 15, 2007

Japan hosts pro-whaling meeting as clashes continue at sea

Japan's campaign to resume commercial whaling gathered pace today when it hosted a meeting of countries that want the International Whaling Commissionto move away from conserving whale populations towards managing regulatedhunting.The IWC introduced a ban on commercial whaling in 1986, but a year laterJapan began exploiting a clause in the moratorium that allows it to hunt acertain number of whales every year for so-called "scientific research". Itis then permitted to sell the meat on the open market.The meeting opened as Japan's whaling fleet continued to clash withanti-whaling activists in the Southern Ocean. The fleet left port at the endof the last year and plans to slaughter up to 945 whales, includingendangered fin whales, in the Antarctic.Yesterday a protest ship belonging to the radical environmental group SeaShepherd collided with a Japanese whale-spotting ship. Each side blamed theother for the collision.

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