WWF Welcomes Japan's Announcement Not to Hunt Humpback Whales



Posted on 21 December 2007  | 
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
© IFAW / C. CarlsonEnlarge
The Japanese government has agreed to drop plans to hunt humpback whales during this year's annual whaling expedition in the Antarctic.
 
This year's hunt is particularly controversial because in addition to some 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales, the fleet intended to kill up to 50 humpbacks.
 
"Humpback whales have captured the hearts and minds of the public like almost no other sea creature," said Wendy Elliott of WWF's Global Species Programme.

"Humpbacks are viewed with awe when sighted on whale watching expeditions -- not only because of their majesty, but also their rarity.  This species is still to fully recover from systematic hunting prior to the 1960s that decimated populations, and the species is classified as vulnerable by IUCN."
 
Humpback whales have been protected from commercial whaling for more than 40 years as the IWC banned their commercial hunting since the mid 1960's  - well before the global moratorium on whaling into force in 1986.
 
"WWF welcomes this climb down. However, Japan is still flouting international opinion by going after minke and fin whales - all in the name of so called science," Elliott added.
 
WWF says Japan's "scientific whaling" it is nothing more than a cover that uses bogus science as a pretext for commercial whaling. The environmental organization has repeatedly condemned Japan's scientific whaling programme as unnecessary and unscientific, noting that non-lethal research techniques are available to provide nearly all relevant data on whale populations.
 
The current expedition lasts through April.
 
For further info :
Joanna Benn, Communications Manager, International Species Programme
Jbenn@wwfspecies.org

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
© IFAW / C. Carlson Enlarge

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