From: Associated Press
Published June 2, 2005 12:00 AM

U.S. Urges Japan to Stop Killing Whales, Says Any Expansion in Kills Unacceptable

WASHINGTON — The United States again is urging Japan to end its program of killing whales, which the Japanese say is for scientific research, and told Japan any expansion of the program would be unacceptable, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.


NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen said Japanese whalers already take about 800 of the maritime mammals, and U.S. specialists have noted signs that a significant increase is planned.


"There are indications that Japan plans to expand it research whale hunt by the hundreds," Smullen said Wednesday. "Any unilateral move to increase the number or type of whales killed, and market (the kill) under the guise of science is unacceptable.


"We have made this known by communicating today."


He said the U.S. position was submitted through the State Department.


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The United States made its move in advance of a June 20-24 meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Ulsan, South Korea.


Smullen said Japan is expected to reveal an enhanced whaling program within days. The expected announcement will be on the agenda of the whaling commission meeting, Smullen said.


In a news release, NOAA said U.S. officials repeated their opposition to lethal research on whales in the communication to Japan. Smullen said U.S. officials believe "Japan's research whaling raises questions of scientific validity" because scientific data can be collected without killing the animals.


Recovery of already depleted stocks could be endangered by the Japanese whalers, the release said.


U.S. officials also said an expansion of Japan's program in the Southern Ocean "will hinder discussion and progress on other important issues at the IWC meeting," the news release said.


Japan began taking whales for what it describes as research in 1987 in the Southern Ocean and in the North Pacific. Japan unilaterally issues itself an annual quota of more than 800 whales including minke, sei, Bryde's and sperm whales.


Whale meat from the research hunts is sold in the Japanese marketplace, NOAA said.


NOAA is the U.S. government's scientific research and whale management agency.


Source: Associated Press


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