Whaling battle moves to YouTube

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The Australian government has launched an anti-whaling message aimed at Japanese children on video-sharing internet site YouTube.

In the video, which carries Japanese subtitles, Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull urges all countries to stop catching and killing whales.

The video includes footage of humpback whales, as well as Australian children proclaiming support for a whaling ban.

Japan opposes the international prohibition of commercial whaling.

Every year it hunts hundreds of whales in Antarctica under what it describes as a scientific research programme.

This year, it will hunt 50 humpback whales – an endangered species – as well as more than 900 minke whales, a move criticised by anti-whaling nations.

Research ‘pretext’

“Can you imagine what life on Earth would be like without these magnificent creatures?” Mr Turnbull asked in the video.

“Hundreds of years of whaling nearly wiped them out.”

Action by the international community meant that whale populations were recovering but some countries were still hunting whales, “often under the pretext of scientific research”, he said.

“We urge all countries, especially our friends in Japan, to bring their whaling programmes to an end,” he said.

Japan’s whaling fleet is expected to sail to the Antarctic later this year – to an area Australia has declared a whale sanctuary.

The BBC’s Nick Bryant, in Sydney, says opposition politicians have pressed the government to launch legal action against the Japanese whalers.

But Mr Turnbull has said a legal move would be futile, because Japanese courts would not recognise the case.

There has also long been concern that a legal injunction could damage diplomatic relations between Canberra and Tokyo.

Instead, Mr Turnbull has said he will make his case in the court of public opinion.

Source: bbc.co.uk