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Japan Drops Humpback Whale Hunt
By Wendy Heller, December 21, 2007 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
Source: Bbc.co.uk

Nobutaka Machimura said the humpback hunt would not go ahead - although the fleet will still hunt about 1,000 other whales in the area.

The BBC's Chris Hogg, in Tokyo, says Japan is now unlikely to chase the humpbacks for at least a year.

The move comes after pressure from the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Japan is regularly condemned for its annual whaling missions.

But this year's Antarctic expedition was particularly controversial because, in addition to 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales, the fleet intended to kill up to 50 humpbacks.

It was the first time Japan had targeted the humpbacks since a moratorium was introduced in the mid-1960s - when the species had been hunted almost to extinction.

Australia criticism

Japan says whaling is necessary for scientific research, but other countries say the same goals could be achieved using non-lethal techniques.

"Japan has decided not to catch humpback whales for one year or two," Mr Machimura told reporters.

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