Whaling commission ponders suspending hunting ban
  • This Section
  • Latest
  • Web Wrap
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 00:47
Agadir, Morocc: The International Whaling Commission began its most important meeting in decades debating whether to scrap an ineffective 25-year ban on commercial hunting and instead allow for limited whaling under a more enforceable regime.

Though environmental groups say the 1986 moratorium has been one of the most successful animal conservation measures in history, it has failed to prevent Japan, Norway and Iceland from killing hundreds of whales each year in defiance of the commission.

A proposal before the 88-member commission would allow the three countries limited whaling in exchange for removing their rogue status and imposing a 10-year period of international monitoring.

The proposal's author, IWC Chairman Cristian Maquieira, has said it would save about 5,000 whales over 10 years, though he was not attending this week's meeting due to illness.

Allowing for limited hunting might also reduce the harassment by conservationists trying to disrupt whale hunts, sometimes leading to violent clashes at sea. Within minutes of opening the annual conference, the commission's deputy chairman, Anthony Liverpool, adjourned the open sessions for two days to give pro- and anti-whaling countries a chance to discuss whether a compromise was possible. The suspension of the normal agenda was unprecedented in recent decades, and reflected the contentiousness of the proposal to lift the ban. The meeting ends Friday.

Many commission members also want international sales of whale meat halted.

"We want two things: we want to save more whales, and we want a whaling commission that functions well," Dutch delegate Marianne Wuite said.

The future of the 65-year-old commission has been undermined by its inability to stop Japan, Norway and Iceland from hunting whales.

In 1994 it declared the Antarctic off-limits, but Japan objected to the sanctuary, and the commission has no mechanism to ensure compliance or enforce its rules.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 00:47

comments powered by Disqus