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Japan Antarctic whaling could resume

July 13, 2011 at 7:20 AM   |   Comments

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TOKYO, July 13 (UPI) -- Japan, contrary to reports it might discontinue Antarctic whaling, plans to dispatch its hunting fleet this year, an official told the BBC.

In response, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose effort forced an early end to last year's hunt, also vowed to resume its campaign.

Joji Morishita, Japan's deputy commissioner to the International Whaling Commission, told the commission the plan was to return despite speculation the activity might stop because of factors including money problems, new rules and conservationists' protests, the BBC report said.

"We are now discussing how we can send our fleet back to the Antarctic Ocean," Morishita was quoted as saying. He is also a senior official in the Fisheries Agency, the report said.

"Simply put, the attack from Sea Shepherd organization is the one we have to consider how we prevent that to happen again."

At the IWC meeting, the report said the Japanese group showed pictures and videos which it said showed the conservationists attacking whaling vessels with projectiles including flares and glass bottles filled with foul-smelling butyric acid.

The BBC report said Sea Shepherd has been sending larger and faster vessels even as Japan has cut back its fleet. Last year's catch was about 170, far fewer that the target of about 850 whales.

New maritime regulations also might hamper the effort as they would not permit the Nisshin Maru factory ship in the Antarctic waters with tanks of heavy fuel, the report said.

"Sea Shepherd will also return and will once again intercept and block their operations," group head Paul Watson wrote on his blog earlier this week, the report said.

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