Japan proposes sharp cut in minke whale catch quota

Japan proposes sharp cut in minke whale catch quota

Japan hopes to resume full-fledged whaling in its coastal waters in return for the proposed quota reduction in the Antarctic Sea, the sources said  on Tuesday. The proposal to cut Japan's annual catch quota to between 360 and 440 whales from the current 765 to 935 range was made at an informal meeting of 12 International Whaling Commission members, including antiwhaling nations such as the United States and Australia, held in Washington from Wednesday to Friday last week, the sources said.

Japan also eased its opposition to a proposal to establish a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic, indicating its readiness to accept it. In February, IWC Chairman Cristian Maquieira laid out plans that would enable Japan to continue catching whales in Antarctic waters and Japanese coastal waters if it agreed to suspend its research whaling for 10 years.

The proposal by Maquieira, which fell short of setting catch quotas for member countries, is aimed at breaking a long-standing deadlock between whaling and antiwhaling countries. But it is strongly opposed by Australia, which is calling for phasing out whaling operations in the Antarctic in five years.

Taking the results of the Washington meeting into account, the chairman is due to make a new proposal tomorrow to provide the basis for deliberations at the IWC's annual assembly in Morocco in June. Japan halted commercial whaling in 1986 in line with an international moratorium but has been hunting whales since 1987 for what it calls scientific research purposes.

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