Viral

TOKYO (Web Desk) – A Japanese whaling fleet has killed 333 minke whales as part of the Japanese government’s controversial research program.

The hunt was part of a study to understand the best ways to manage minke whale populations in the Arctic Ocean, the Japanese Ministry of Fisheries said in a statement on its website.

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But it was also in defiance of a United Nations International Court of Justice order to halt its whaling.

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Japan’s Fishery Agency issued a report noting 230 of the whales killed in the hunt were female, and about 90 percent of them were pregnant, the UPI reported on Friday.

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Greenpeace was quick to respond to the report with the tweet: “The Japanese whaling fleet defies the UN and kills 333 whales, including 200 pregnant mothers.”

The 333 is a third of what Japan’s yearly totals used to be. Japan briefly stopped whaling after the UN order, then made a new proposal of 4,000 whales killed over 12 years and over the objections of the environmental activists and the international community they resumed hunting in 2015.

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Conservationists contend hunting in the name of research is only to subvert international law, because the International Whaling Commission allows scientific exemptions in its 1986 commercial whaling ban.

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Australia has been a particularly outspoken critic of Japan’s whaling practices. “We do not accept in any way, shape or form the concept of killing whales for so-called ‘scientific research’,” Australian environment minister Greg Hunt said in a statement last year.