WASHINGTON — An animal protection organization today urged U.S. sanctions against Japan because it allegedly has reneged on a pledge to join the rest of the world in halting large-scale whale hunts.
The World Wildlife Fund denounced plans by Japanese whalers to kill 875 Minke whales a year in what the Japan Whaling Assn. says is a scientific project to gather data on the population and habits of the Antarctic mammal.
Roger Payne, a research biologist for the World Wildlife Fund's U.S. branch, told a news conference today that the Japanese proposal is "a scam, plain and simple . . . there's no difference at all between scientific whaling and commercial whaling. There are the same people in the same boats killing the same whales."
William Reilly, president of the U.S. branch, said the organization is working to gather congressional support for sanctions. It will attempt to collect signatures of a million Americans calling for the Administration to impose the sanctions, he said.
The Japan Whaling Assn. denied the accusation of a scam and charged that the fund is waging "a campaign to sabotage research that is likely to prove that whale populations are thriving."