Japan cancels next Antarctic whaling hunt

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Japan is cancelling its next Antarctic whaling hunt for the first time in more than 25 years, an official said Thursday, just days after the UN`s International Court of Justice ordered an end to the controversial practice.

File image of Japanese whalers hauling in a Minke whale in the Southern Ocean.
"We have decided to cancel research whaling (in the Antarctic) for the fiscal year starting in April because of the recent ruling," a fisheries agency official told AFP.

But he added that "we plan to go ahead with research whaling in other areas as scheduled", including the northern Pacific.

On Monday, the Hague-based ICJ issued a landmark ruling that found the Antarctic programme was a commercial activity disguised as science, and said Tokyo must revoke existing whaling licences.

Australia, backed by New Zealand, hauled Japan before the ICJ in 2010 in a bid to end the annual Southern Ocean hunt.

Tokyo has used a legal loophole in the 1986 ban on commercial whaling that allowed it to continue slaughtering the mammals, ostensibly so it could gather scientific data.

However, it has never made a secret of the fact that the whale meat from these hunts can end on dining tables.

Japan also has a coastal whaling programme that is not covered by the ban.

The next Antarctic hunt would have started in late 2014. The most recent finished last month.

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