BUENOS AIRES – Latin American members of the International Whaling Commission urged Japan Monday to stop "scientific" whaling in Antarctic waters and respect sanctuaries for the species.

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay have refused to hunt nearly a thousand whales, including endangered species, in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, according to a statement posted on an official Argentine government website.

The countries are members of the anti-whaling Group of Buenos Aires (GBA).

Japanese whalers kill hundreds of the mammals a year in Antarctic waters.

Commercial whaling has been banned worldwide since 1986, but Japan justifies its hunts as scientific research, while not hiding the fact that the whale meat is later sold in shops and restaurants.

The International Whaling Commission has banned all types of commercial whaling in the area of some 19.3 million square miles (50 million square kilometers) surrounding Antarctica.

GBA nations reaffirmed their commitment to whale conservation, maintaining a moratorium on whaling trade, promoting non-lethal use of whale resources and respecting the integrity of recognized whale sanctuaries.