Future of whaling in the balance at global meet

General Manager - Port Investment Services at HIPG, Justin Zhang with Sri Lanka's Ambassador to China, Dr. Palitha Kohona in Beijing

PARIS, June 19, 2010 (AFP) – Pro- and anti-whaling nations face off next week in a battle over the 24-year-old ban on the commercial killing of whales. Gathering in Agadir, Morocco, the 88 countries of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will tussle over controversial changes to a moratorium that has become an icon of green activism since 1986.

“This is an absolutely critical meeting for the IWC, with an opportunity to break the political deadlock that ravaged the Commission for decades,” said Wendy Elliott, species programme manager at WWF International.

The moratorium, say experts, has notched up several successes in saving whale species driven to near-extinction by more than a century and a half of industrial hunting.

Catches have dropped from 70,000 a year in the 1960s, to less than 2,000.

But it also has gaping holes, for Japan, Norway and Iceland have continued to kill whales in defiance of international opinion.

Japan invokes the clause of scientific research while Norway and Iceland say their whaling is sustainable and a legitimate economic activity and have simply refused to adhere to the ban.

The proposal