IWC proposes allowing Japan to hunt 120 whales a year

IWC proposes allowing Japan to hunt 120 whales a year

The proposal by the chair and vice chair also calls for cutting Japan's annual catch limit for minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean to 400 from the present 935 over the next five years and gradually reducing the limit to 200 over the subsequent five years. The IWC seeks to obtain approval for the proposal at its annual meeting in Morocco in June.

But it is unclear whether an agreement will be reached at the gathering, with some antiwhaling nations viewing the proposal as an effective approval for the resumption of currently banned commercial whaling. Cutting the annual limit to 200 whales in the Antarctic Ocean may be difficult for Japan to accept.

While he was pleased that the proposal included coastal whaling, Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu complained that the overall catch limits are far from the Japanese request. The cut in the limit for minke catches in the Antarctic Ocean "is too drastic," he told a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, indicating a government plan to raise the proposed limit as much as possible before the IWC meeting.

But Akamatsu said he is eager to see some agreement reached at the coming meeting after the IWC's effective failure to work amid the confrontation between whaling and antiwhaling countries. "This year provides the biggest chance to normalize the IWC."

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