By Brooks Hays
Though whaling has been banned in the South Ocean since 1946, Japan has used a loophole to conduct so-called research whaling since 1987.
In an effort to resume their whaling program, Japanese officials are promising to kill fewer whales this time around. The island nation is poised to jump-start its Antarctic "research" whaling, despite an International Court of Justice ruling earlier this year that banned such activities.
In an updated plan submitted to the International Whaling Commission, Japan downsized its capture quota, promising to limit its mink whale kills to 333 -- a third of its previous annual harvest.
"We will explain the new plan sincerely so we can secure support from each country," Japan's Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Koya Nishikawa told reporters this week.
The new plan also excludes the killing of humpback and fin whales, and puts a 12-year limit on the program. This spring's ICJ ruling criticized the plan for its open-ended nature, but the ruling also declared that Japan's whaling program was unscientific in nature, and used vague research objectives as a thin veil for commercial whaling activities.
Though whaling has been banned in the South Ocean since 1946, Japan has used a loophole to conduct so-called research whaling since 1987 -- in many people's eyes, subverting Article 8 of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
The new plan will be discussed in the spring at the next IWC meeting.