Japan Blasts Whaling Commission for Refusing to Lift Whaling Ban
NOORDWIJK, Netherlands (AP) _ Angry about an International Whaling Commission decision to continue a ban on commercial whaling, Japan is threatening to quit the 37-nation regulatory body.
Japan blasted the commission Friday for overwhelmingly rejecting a proposal a day earlier to lift the ban on certain types of commercial whaling. It said the commission caved in to pressure from environmental groups.
Japan says the minke whale, the smallest commercially viable whale, is no longer in danger of extinction. Supported by Norway and Iceland, it called for exempting the minke whale from the ban.
But the commission, by more than a two-thirds majority, upheld a 1986 moratorium on all commercial whale hunting.
″A group of nations voted as a like-minded bloc and (for their advice) relied on a minority of scientists that are mostly affiliated with anti- whaling organizations,″ said Alan Macnow, spokesman for the Japanese delegation.
″The Japanese are going to give it another year at least to see if the group will accept″ its proposals for limited commercial whaling of the minke whale, Macnow warned.
″If not, the delegation will recommend to their government that they form another (whaling) organization,″ he said.
Macnow said the Japanese held talks with delegates from Norway and Iceland to determine the character of a possible new body.
Gudmunder Eiriksson, the leader of Iceland’s delegation, also accused the commission of allowing politics to pervade in its decisions.
The ban on whaling will continue for one more year, until the commission’s next meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Iceland.
Compliance with the ban is voluntary among members of the commission, which has no enforcement powers.
The International Whaling Commission was set up in 1946 by international treaty. The organization, which includes all the world’s major whaling nations, works to save whales from extinction.
The whaling mortatorium was instituted in 1986, after nearly all the major whale species had been hunted to near-extinction.
The commission voted Friday to begin surveying the world’s dolphin and porpoise populations. Those fishes have increasingly become the prey of whale fishermen deprived of their customary catch by the four-year ban.
In the early 1960s, when Japanese whaling was at its peak, whales provided about 23 percent of all meat consumed in the country. Since then, declining whale supplies have turned it into a delicacy.