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Asia Dive News : School in Japan serves whale curry

TOKYO - A public junior high school in Japan's northern port town of Kushiro had a new item on the menu for its students Monday - rice topped with whale curry.

The meat is from minke whales the local whalers had caught just off the coast of Kushiro on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido, Kyodo News agency reported.

Whale meat returned to public school lunches in Kushiro, the former whaling hub about 560 miles northeast of Tokyo, last year for the first time in 38 years as part of the city-sponsored campaign to promote whale meat.

Whale meat dishes, however, are not on the menu every day.

The whale curry will be served at elementary schools in town on Tuesday, and whale meat croquettes are planned in January, Kyodo said.

Japan on Friday started a seasonal hunt off Kushiro's coast as part of a research program, which whaling opponents say is little more than a thinly veiled resumption of commercial whaling.

During the hunt that runs through Oct. 31, local whalers plan to catch 60 minke whales under the program approved by the International Whaling Commission.

Along with the 60 it's allowed to catch off Kushiro, Japan is also allowed by IWC to hunt 60 more off the northern coast of its Honshu main island, as well as 440 minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean and 210 others in the northwestern Pacific.

Japan's Fisheries Agency claims the hunt is aimed at studying the whales' feeding patterns and their effect on fish stocks.

Source: AP