International Whaling Committee to maintain whaling ban


The International Whaling Commission, which met this week in the former whaling port of Ulsan, South Korea, voted Tuesday to uphold a ban on commercial whaling.

The vote was seen as a major setback to Norway, Japan and other pro-whaling members who want to resume commercial whaling.

The 66-member commission, which regulates global whaling, banned commercial hunts in 1986. Canada is not a member of the IWC, but watches its decisions closely.

IWC members voted 29-23 against the proposal, which would have lifted the ban, with five abstentions.

The head of the Japanese delegation, Joji Morishita, condemned the decision and threatened to withdraw from the IWC and resume whaling within a 200-nautical mile zone.

“There is no willingness to compromise,” said Rune Frovik, secretary of the pro-whaling High North Alliance. “In such a situation, the whaling nations are perfectly capable of responsibly managing their whaling operations outside of IWC control.”

Norway’s defiance of the ban looks set to continue, says the Aftenposten newspaper. Norway is in the midst of its annual whaling season.

Norway’s quota for the 2005 season, which started on April 18, allows whalers to take 796 minke whales. Iceland, which like Japan conducts scientific research whaling, caught 25 whales in 2004.

On Monday, Japan said it plans to more than double its annual research harvest of minke whales this year from 440 to 935. Critics call this commercial whaling in disguise. The U.S. says scientific advances make it unnecessary to kill whales to study them.

Japan says it must kill whales to study them. It then sells the meat, which is allowed under commission rules. Japan says whaling is a national tradition and that eating meat from mammals is an important part of its food culture.

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