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Soviets Halt Whaling; Greenpeace Hails Move

May 24, 1987|Associated Press

MOSCOW — The Soviet Union said it has voluntarily ended its commercial whaling operations and is bringing its last whaling ships back to port in the Ukraine, drawing praise Saturday from the U.S.-based environmental group Greenpeace.

Radio Moscow said in its brief Friday evening news dispatch that the whaling flotilla is returning from waters in the Antarctic to Odessa on the Black sea.

It said the Soviet decision "was taken following consultations with scientists and nature conservation experts."

It did not elaborate, but all whaling operations have been under strong attack from environmental groups in recent years.

'We Are Pleased'

"Obviously we are pleased," Greenpeace spokesman Dean Wilkinson said in Washington, where the group has its headquarters.

Wilkinson said the announcement indicated the Soviets would abide by a 1985 agreement in which they informed the 41-nation International Whaling Commission that they would stop commercial whaling after this season.

There was no immediate response from the Britain-based commission, which was closed for the weekend.

Wilkinson said the Soviets killed 3,028 minke whales in 1986, representing about 50% of the worldwide catch of that species, and 3,027 in 1985. He said this year's kill rate was probably about the same.

Urges Moratorium Action

He called on the Soviet Union also to withdraw its objection to the moratorium on commercial whaling voted by the commission in 1982. Such a move would leave Norway as the only nation rejecting the moratorium, he said.

Late last year, Japan agreed to withdraw its objections to the moratorium and comply with the order after concluding a separate agreement with the United States. Japan announced in April that it would end commercial whaling next year when it stops hunting for sperm whales off its coast.

In return, the United States promised not to cut Japan's fishing quota in U.S. coastal waters.

However, Japan notified the whaling commission that it plans to kill 875 whales in the Antarctic Ocean next year for research.

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