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IWC rejects Japan's scientific whaling plan

Published: Sunday 31 July 2005

Though a two-decade-old ban on commercial whaling was upheld at the International Whaling Commission's (IWC's) recently concluded annual meet in Ulsan, South Korea, the anti-whaling parties had little to rejoice. The reason: the evident alarming increase in the strength of the pro-whaling lobby. The close defeat of Japan's proposal to forgo the discussion on whale sanctuaries (voted 29-28) and the inclusion of pro-whaling Gambia, Togo and the island of Nauru in IWC were cases in point. Japan's proposal to double its annual minke whale intake to nearly 935 for its scientific whaling programme got defeated 30-27.

Japan threatened to pull out of IWC after its proposal to do away with the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary near Antarctica was defeated. A simple majority among the commission's 66 members would authorise pro-whaling nations to set the agenda of IWC meetings, abolish monitoring groups and permit Japan to increase whaling. But the moratorium on commercial whaling can only be overturned by a three-fourths majority.

Though IWC's prohibition is not legally-binding, Norway is the lone country that holds a commercial whaling season in its defiance. Japan kills under the garb of scientific research, selling the meat afterwards, which is legal under the commission rules. In 2005, over 1,550 whales are expected to be killed by Japan, Norway and other nations.

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