A member of the Sea Shepherd Antarctica crew watches the whaling ship, the Nisshin Maru, in port. Photo: Sea Shepherd

18 November 2014 (AFP) – Japan said on Tuesday it has cut its Antarctic whale-catch quota by two-thirds in a move it hopes will convince international opponents it is conducting genuine scientific research on expeditions in the region.

The International Court of Justice -- the highest court of the United Nations -- ruled in March that Japan was abusing a scientific exemption set out in the 1986 moratorium on whaling.

The court said the controversial programme, which sees taxpayer-subsidised Japanese boats harpooning the huge mammals and then selling on their meat, supposedly as a by-product, was a commercial hunt masquerading as research.

Judges said any nation that wanted to avail itself of the scientific exemption had to show why it was necessary to kill whales to do the research.

Japan cancelled its 2014-15 Antarctic hunt after the ruling, but said it intends to resume "research whaling" in 2015-16.

In the new plan submitted to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its Scientific Committee, Japan has set a new annual target of 333 minke whales, down from some 900 under the previous programme, the government said in a statement.

This level of catch is "necessary" to obtain information on the age of the population, information Japan says it needs to allow the setting of "safe levels of catch limits" and to ensure sustainability. [more]

Japan cuts Antarctic whale quota

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