Japan to redesign Antarctic whale 'research' hunt after UN court ruling

This handout picture taken by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) in 2013 shows a Bryde's whale on the deck of a whaling ship during Japan's whale research program in the Western North Pacific. Japan said on Friday, April 18, 2014, it w
This handout picture taken by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) in 2013 shows a Bryde's whale on the deck of a whaling ship during Japan's whale research program in the Western North Pacific. Japan said on Friday, April 18, 2014, it would redesign its controversial "research" whaling mission in the Antarctic after a United Nations' court ruled it was a commercial hunt masquerading as science. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan said on Friday it would redesign its controversial "research" whaling mission in the Antarctic after a United Nations' court ruled it was a commercial hunt masquerading as science.

"We will carry out extensive studies in cooperation with ministries concerned to submit a new research programme by this autumn to the International Whaling Commission, reflecting the criteria laid out in the verdict," Mr Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told reporters.

Mr Hayashi, who had met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier in the day, also confirmed an earlier announcement that the 2014-2015 hunt in the Southern Ocean would not go ahead.

The United Nations' International Court of Justice ruled last month that Antarctic whaling breached agreements banning commercial hunts. The ruling does not apply to a separate Japanese mission in the Pacific Ocean.

Mr Hayashi said Japan's "research" programme in the northwestern Pacific, which is due to depart Japanese shores on April 26th, would continue, albeit in a slightly reduced form.

The court ruled that the Japanese mission was catching far too many whales for it to be considered legitimate scientific research.

"We will conduct JARPN II (second phase north-western Pacific whaling) by reducing its scale... in view of the verdict," the minister said.