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Whales Hunted Close to Extinction

Despite the fact that in some areas, whales are coming close to extinction, several countries are petitioning the International Whaling Commission for permission to hunt even MORE whales. Some of these are being filed on behalf of aboriginal peoples who have traditionally hunted whales, but others--such as Japan--are modern societies. The United States is one of the countries asking for permission to kill more whales.

On behalf of its territory Greenland, the Danish government has submitted a proposal to the IWC for a renewal of Greenland's Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) quota that would see a dramatic expansion in the number of animals hunted, including the addition of two new species. The US, Russia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have also submitted proposals to renew their five year ASW quotas.

Greenland wants to increase its hunt from 175 to 200 west Greenland minke whales per year, to increase its fin whale hunt from a voluntary cap of 10 to 19 per year, and to add 10 humpbacks per year and 2 bowhead whales (neither of which have been hunted in Greenland for decades). Greenland does not report to the IWC that it kills more than 4,000 narwhals, belugas, killer whales, pilot whales and harbor porpoises every year, which go toward meeting its claimed need for whale meat. Neither does it admit that a good deal of the whale meat hunted is sold by the hunters to a state owned company that sells it all across Greenland?far beyond the communities whose subsistence needs the quota is intended to serve.

In the Independent, David McNeill reports that "Japan has vowed to "kill 50 humpback whales later this year in defiance of conservationists and anti-whaling nations" Japanese whaling ships intend to kill the humpbacks in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary as part of its 'scientific whaling' program. Japan catches nearly 1,000 whales there each year in the name of research Their ships will also hunt hundreds of minke, sei, sperm and fin whales."

Many other countries think this research is irrelevant or even bogus. New Zealand conservation minister Chris Carter says that Japanese hunters "killed 7,000 whales over 18 years, and couldn't even decide how many whales there are." Whale meat burgers are even served in Japanese restaurants.

Most environmentalists think the humpback whale has been hunted almost to extinction, but McNeill quotes Tokyo's IWC commissioner Joji Morishita as saying, "We don't see it as endangered." Japan has declared that it may withdraw its membership from the IWC.

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