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Japanese kill 223 whales in first commercial whaling season for 31 years

JAPANESE whaling ship Nisshin Maru returned to port today, completing the first commercial whale-hunting season sanctioned by the country in 31 years.

The whaling fleet killed 187 Bryde’s whales, 25 sei whales and 11 minke whales, three species of rorqual that average 45, 65 and 30 feet in length, returning with 1,430 tons of whale meat — a slightly lower total than from last year’s “research” hunts that conservationists long argued were a mask for commercial whaling.

Operator Kyodo Senpaku co-president Eiji Mori said: “We were worried if we could catch any, but they did a great job.”

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Taku Eto said: “It’s wonderful we had a good start. We will continue our support so that commercial whaling gets back on track.”

Commercial whaling all but wiped out most large whales in the first part of the 20th century and populations remain a fraction of their former size.

Nonetheless, Japan left the International Whaling Commission in last December, claiming that a moratorium on whaling imposed in 1986 had gone on long enough.

Commercial whaling was resumed on July 1 this year.

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