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A fleet of four whaling ships set sail Saturday to hunt up to 51 minke whales in coastal waters through late May as part of he government’s scientific research whaling program.

The Association for Community-Based Whaling, a nonprofit organization set up for coastal research whaling, plans to hunt in an 80-km (50-mile)radius area from Ayukawa port in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, to study the animal’s impact on marine resources by checking stomach contents and other indicators.

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