Dec 24, 2007

Japan removes humpback whales from Antarctic hunt

/wildlife/article/27943TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's whaling fleet in the Antarctic will avoid killing humpback whales for now, but will press on with plans to catch about 1,000 other whales by early in the new year, a government official said on Friday.

The move follows an announcement by Australia on Wednesday that it would send a fisheries patrol ship to gather evidence for a possible international court challenge to halt Japan's yearly slaughter.

"Japan has decided not to catch humpback whales for one year or two," government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura told reporters.

"Japan's relations with Australia could improve, but it depends on how it will see our decision," Machimura said.