Japan's "lethal research whaling" unnecessary: U.S. official

The U.S. government opposes Japan's plan to continue so-called "research whaling" even after an earlier U.N. court ruling against it, a senior U.S. State Department official said Friday.

"Lethal scientific research whaling is unnecessary in modern whale conservation and management," Cathy Novelli, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, told Kyodo News. "Generally, the same scientific information can be collected through non-lethal means," she added.

"The United States continues to support the moratorium on commercial whaling as a necessary measure for the conservation of large whales," Novelli said.

In a case lodged by Australia, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled in March that Japan's research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean is against international conventions.

After the ruling, Japan suspended operations in the Antarctic for the current fiscal year from April, but continued whaling on a reduced scale in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.

After a moratorium on commercial whaling by the International Whaling Commission came into force in 1986, Japan continued whale hunting under quotas set by the Japanese government, saying collecting scientific data is necessary for sustainable use of whale resources.