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 user 2005-06-12 at 11:54:00 am Views: 75
  • #29129
    Japan whale vote ‘will be close’
    A bid to stop Japan from increasing whaling depends on just a
    few votes, Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell said on Thursday.

    Members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) are due to vote on the
    issue on 20 June.

    Japan wants to resume commercial whaling and double the number of whales it
    catches for scientific purposes.

    But Australia opposes the plan, and Mr Campbell has spent the last few weeks
    lobbying other nations for support.

    Under a current international agreement, there is a moratorium on the
    commercial hunting of whales, although some can be killed for scientific

    But the main whaling nations – Norway, Iceland and Japan – now want the ban
    partially lifted, arguing that stocks of some species have recovered enough to
    make hunting sustainable.

    In addition, Japan wants to increase the number of whales it kills for
    scientific purposes – whales which can also then be consumed.

    Under its research quota, Japan wants to start hunting fin and humpback
    whales and to raise its annual intake of minke whales.

    Both issues are on the agenda of the IWC annual conference, which is
    currently taking place in Ulsan, South Korea.

    Delegates are set to discuss a scheme to model how many whales can be killed
    without damaging overall numbers – the Revised Management System (RMS).

    Mr Campbell is heading Australia’s push to retain the status quo. He wants,
    instead, to persuade the IWC to create a Southern Ocean whale sanctuary.

    The environment minister has spent the last few weeks travelling to various
    South Pacific island nations, hoping to gain their support.

    “I think the cold, hard reality is that there are still one or two votes in
    this… We won’t really know the answer until we get to Korea next week,” Mr
    Campbell told ABC radio.

    Japan has threatened to leave the IWC if the body votes against its plans.

    Whale meat is seen as a delicacy in Japan, and officials in Tokyo maintain
    that the tradition is an important part of the nation’s cultural heritage.