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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Report reveals whale hunt cruelty

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ROBIN PASH
19jun06
AUSTRALIA has revealed the true cruelty of Japan's allegedly scientific whaling program, unveiling a disturbing report on how much the animals suffer as they are harpooned and suffocated.

Environment Minister Ian Campbell said the animal welfare study, based on videos of Japanese hunts, showed the way whales were killed was "inhumane and quite disgusting".

Senator Campbell's comments have ignited a new row with Japan on the sidelines of the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting. The Japanese, stung by the failure of three attempts to have the commission endorse its whaling program, have responded by suggesting kangaroos hunted in Australia also suffer.

Senator Campbell released the report, compiled by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which claimed to show Japan's argument it conducts whale hunts humanely "is absolutely false". "This is how Japan, in the name of science, collects whale meat, takes it back to Japan, sticks it in warehouses, tries to get schoolchildren to eat it, gets old people to eat it now, and we also know from some evidence that they feed it to dogs," he said, although Japan denied these allegations.

"It is a horrendous thing . . . it is absolutely abysmal, it is wrong and it has to stop."

The IFAW report claims that more than 80 per cent of whales were not killed instantly, once harpooned. It says whales are often alive as they are winched aboard whaling ships, with harpoons embedded in their flesh. It also says harpooned whales often suffocate as their blow holes are forced underwater when pulled aboard.

Japanese delegate Joji Morishita said Japan's whale killing was "the most humane way". "I just wonder if the minister knows how long it will take for kangaroos to die in his country?" he said.

Japanese official Akira Nakamae later said Senator Campbell's comments were "ungentlemanly" and were damaging Australia's international reputation.

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