06/22/2010, 00.00
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World split in Agadir over whaling

The standoff continues at the International Whaling Commission in Agadir as accusations are made against Japan and other pro-whaling nations. However, a consensus appears to in the making, as more IWC members tend towards a compromise that would maintain the moratorium, whilst allowing limited commercial whaling.
Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) –   After 24 years, the ban on commercial whaling could be lifted at the current meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Agadir, Morocco. The 88-member organisation is discussing whether to keep the moratorium or not. The organisation is split between nations like Japan, which each year hunts about a thousand whales ostensibly for ‘scientific’ research, and anti-whaling nations like Australia. Many observers think that the IWC is moving towards a compromise, which would allow Japan, but also Norway and Iceland, a small commercial hunt, whilst preserving the moratorium.

The debate however has been marred by allegations made in Britain’s Sunday Times that Japan bribed some the poorest members of the IWC in order to get the necessary votes to lift the moratorium. About 17 nations have had their voting rights suspended because they had not paid their annual fees to the organisation. For its part, Japan has threatened to pull out of the IWC by 25 June if a solution is not found.

Under the draft proposal, Japan would be able to catch 120 whales a year in its coastal waters in exchange for a 50 per cent reduction in whaling nations' kill quotas over a 10-year period.

This solution would stop ‘scientific’ expeditions by Japanese whalers in the Antarctic Ocean whale sanctuary, where more than 10,000 whales have been killed since 1986, 1,075 in 2006 alone.

The United States, Japan, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and New Zealand are in favour of the proposal.

In backing the draft, New Zealand has left Australia as the only nation backing a hard-line position of a tighter moratorium, as requested by environmentalists.

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