Japanese to hunt sperm whales

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The Independent Online

Sperm whales, the giant toothed whales immortalised by Herman Melville in Moby Dick, are to be hunted by the Japanese in a move that will anger many countries and outrage environmentalists worldwide.

The Japanese intend to include sperm whales and another great whale, Bryde's whale, in an extension of their "scientific" whaling programme, under which they have continued to hunt whales annually despite the 1986 commercial whaling moratorium. The hunt has already drawn fierce criticism from many nations, including Britain, which say it is a sham and commercial whaling in disguise.

Last night, Britain's Fisheries minister, Elliot Morley, described the move to include sperm and Bryde's whales as "lamentable". He said: "It is a blatant act of defiance of international opinion, and there will be widespread international condemnation of the Japanese actions."

Richard Page, whaling campaigner for Greenpeace, said the Japanese action was "completely outrageous", especially in view of the fact that at the recent meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Japanese attempts to have the trade in whalemeat reopened had been roundly defeated.

Japan's new proposal was lodged personally two weeks ago with the International Whaling Commission in Cambridge by Japan's whaling commissioner, Minoru Morimoto. It discloses that Japan intends hunting 10 sperm whales and 50 Bryde's whales annually for the next two years.