Chile Approves Whale Sanctuary

An appeals court upheld a law banning the Navy's use of sonar within a 12-mile stretch of ocean off Southern California. Environmentalists claim such use harm whales and other marine mammals. (iStockphoto)

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ Chile is making its entire Pacific Ocean territorial waters a whale sanctuary.

The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a bill submitted by President Michelle Bachelet that bans whale hunting off Chile's 3,400 mile (5,500 km) coast.

Bachelet is expected to sign the legislation into law in the coming days.

The bill bans hunting for commercial and scientific purposes.

Chile has not hunted whales since the 1970s. But Bachelet says the South American nation wants to send a clear sign of its will to protect whales in its waters.

Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama already ban whale hunting. And a whale sanctuary exists in Antarctica.

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