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Norway renews whale hunting quotas, Greenpeace protests as
by Staff Writers
Oslo (AFP) Feb 17, 2012

Norway announced Friday it was renewing its whale hunting quotas for 2012, approving the killing of 1,286 whales even though the country's dwindling whaling fleet is having trouble filling the quota.

The decision brought a sharp response from environmental activists Greenpeace, which accused the government of having ceded to pressure from the whaling industry.

Year after year however, Norwegian whalers have struggled to fill the quotas, variously blaming poor weather, the high cost of fuel and the long distance rquired to travel to whaling zones.

To try to address the problem the government has this year merged two different whaling zones to make it easier for whalers to focus their hunt in the waters around Svalbard Islands in the Arctic Ocean well north of the mainland.

"The whale population is abundant in these waters and the weather conditions are relatively good," senior fisheries minister Ole-David Stenseth told AFP.

"Given the modest level of catches, we thought that would pose no danger to the local whale population while making the hunt more efficient," he added.

In January, the head of Norway's fisheries service expressed concern about the steep fall in the number of boats taking part in whaling: only 19 in 2011 as opposed to 33 a decade earlier.

Campaigners against the whaling industry say that is a direct result of consumers' rejection of whale meat.

Truls Gulowsen, the head of Greenpeace's Norwegian branch, denounced the decision to renew the quotas.

Instead of trying to keep the industry alive by handing it such concession, it would be better advised to set about dismantling it, she told AFP.

"This activity is quite simply superfluous and it is condemned to die out," he said.

Norway, with Iceland, is the only country still openly practising commercial whaling of the Minke whale in defiance of an international moratorium in place since 1986.

Japan also hunts whales but insists this is only for scientific purposes even if most of the meat ends up on the market.

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Court denies Japanese whalers' appeal over US group
Los Angeles (AFP) Feb 16, 2012
A US judge refused Thursday to restrain a US-based environmental group from disrupting the activities of Japanese whalers, allegedly with violence. Judge Richard Jones denied a request for a preliminary injunction sought by Japanese whalers against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which is based in northwestern state of Washington. The whalers sought a court order preventing the Se ... read more

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