US scientists blast Japan's whaling allegation

Updated: 2007-12-02 09:34

LOS ANGELES -- US scientists refuted Japan's allegation that the country's hunt for some whale species is purely for scientific purposes, the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.

The Japanese whalers have announced their aim to harpoon, over the next several months, 935 minke whales, 50 fin whales and 50 humpback whales.

It's the first legal hunt of endangered humpbacks since an international moratorium was put in place in 1963.

Anyone who believes the expedition is purely for science, as Japan contends, or that humpback whales need to be killed to measure pregnancy rates, might be led to believe that the sun rises in the west, the US scientists said.

Alisa Schulman-Janiger, a researcher with the American Cetacean Society, refuted the argument that the killing was aimed at measuring whale pregnancy rates.

"Only 50 could hugely impact a small breeding population" of any of the many groups of humpbacks that migrate to the killing area, Schulman-Janiger said.

Other critics said the argument for Japan's expedition is merely a ploy to skirt the international moratorium placed on all commercial whaling in 1986 but which allows hunts that serve a scientific purpose.

Japanese whalers sail through the same loophole every year, returning with 50-ton lab specimens that also become table fare for a nation that for generations has savored it, the paper said.

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