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IWC unveils compromise proposal on commercial whaling, angering environmentalists

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-04-23

The International Whaling Commission on Thursday unveiled a compromise proposal under which Japan, Iceland and Norway, who are currently violating a whaling moratorium, could resume commercial whaling under drastically reduced quotas.

REUTERS - Japan, Norway and Iceland could continue commercial whaling for another decade, despite a global ban, under a proposal released on Thursday by the International Whaling Commission.
 
Between 4,000 and 18,000 whales could be saved over the next 10 years under the compromise proposal, which sets lower catch limits for all three whaling nations than the self-imposed quotas they have now.
 
"For the first time since the adoption of the commercial whaling moratorium, we will have strict, enforceable limits on all whaling operations," Cristian Maquieira, the Chilean chairman of the commission, said in a statement.
 
There would be rigorous monitoring of whaling, and no other countries in the 88-nation commission would be allowed to start whaling operations during the 10-year plan.
 
The environmentally delicate Southern Ocean would be designated as a sanctuary, but whalers from Japan would still be allowed to take a number of the marine mammals from the seas around Antarctica.
 
The United States said it would consider the plan but said it would oppose any proposal that lifted the international commercial whaling ban, which has been routinely evaded by Japan, Norway and Iceland.
 
"Loopholes" blamed
 
"When the moratorium on commercial whaling began in 1986, it had an immediate beneficial impact," Monica Medina, a Commerce Department official who represents Washington at the whaling commission, said in a statement.
 
Medina said that, over time, "loopholes in the rules" allowed more whaling, with 35,000 whales hunted and killed since the ban started.
 
The proposal is a compromise crafted by Maquieira and the commission's vice chairman, Anthony Liverpool, after two years of acrimony and meetings in Washington last week that ended with no agreement. The 88 member-countries will have 60 days to consider it before discussing it at the commission's annual meeting in Morocco in June.
 
Environmental groups and many countries, including Australia and New Zealand, favor a total ban on commercial whaling.
 
"It's quite disappointing," said Susan Lieberman of the Pew Environment Group. "The key issue is, it allows for continued commercial whaling. It allows Japan to whale off the coast of Antarctica, and that's not acceptable."
 
The impact of climate change is more severe at the poles, and the waters around Antarctica are already under pressure, Lieberman said. She questioned the proposed idea of setting up a sanctuary for whales there, and then letting whaling continue in the area.
 
Lieberman praised the proposal's provisions for detailed monitoring and DNA tracking of whales.

 

Date created : 2010-04-23

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