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Japan begins whaling expedition, set out to kill hundreds

Japan's whaling fleet was scheduled to leave port Saturday to begin its largest hunt in the South Pacific, reports the Associated Press in the Star Tribune and BBC.
The orders are to kill up to 1,000 whales, including 50 humpbacks. This is the first humpback hunt since the 1963 global ban. Few groups have been allowed to hunt them since then.Japan is allowed to hunt in the name of scientific research even though commercial whaling was stopped in 1986.
Other species that Japan is hunting for include the Antarctic minke and fin, but the humpback hunt is drawing the most attention because it is a favorite among watchers. A Greenpeace ship will be following the Japanese fleet of four ships.
"Humpbacks are very sensitive and live in close-knit pods so even one death can be extremely damaging," Greenpeace spokesman Junichi Sato said.
However, Japanese fisheries spokesman Hideki Moronuki said that taking 50 whales will not have a significant impact on a population of tens of thousands.