Japan's whaling decision could affect Alaska Native whalers

    Fairbanks, Alaska (AP) - Japan's decision to leave the International Whaling Commission could have consequences on subsistence whaling by Alaska Natives.

    Alaska's Energy Desk reports Japan announced last month that it's leaving the commission to resume commercial whaling for the first time in 30 years.

    John Hopson Jr., chairman of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, says Japan has been a "strong ally" in helping Alaska Native whalers obtain their hunting quota for the animals.

    The international commission sets the quota for subsistence whaling. The commission approved a rule change last year that made the renewal of aboriginal subsistence whaling automatic.

    Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission lawyer Jessica Lefevre says Japan's absence on the commission could shift the balance of power, possibly leading to the automatic renewal rule being challenged.

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