From: Associated Press
Published March 15, 2005 12:00 AM

Whaling Moratorium Likely to Be Dumped, New Zealand Official Warns

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling is likely to be rescinded in the next few years, New Zealand's commissioner to the International Whaling Commission has warned.


A decade-long stalemate within the commission over whether to resume whaling shows signs of being resolved in favor of pro-whaling nations, Sir Geoffrey Palmer said in speech notes released Tuesday.


"There is now a strong move to resume commercial whaling within the IWC (International Whaling Commission)," he said.


"More and more nations are joining the commission on the pro-whaling side. The likelihood is that in the next few years efforts to rescind the moratorium will succeed," Palmer told conservation officials in his speech.


Japan and other pro-whaling countries pushed to lift the whaling moratorium at last year's IWC meeting, while the anti-whaling bloc opposed any move that might lead to ending the ban.


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The outcome of the debate in Sorrento, Italy, was seen as a compromise between pro-whaling countries and the anti-whaling bloc -- led by New Zealand and Australia.


The IWC banned commercial whaling in 1986. But a year later it approved restricted hauls by Japan for research purposes -- a program criticized by environmentalists as commercial whaling in disguise -- and Norway rejected the ban under commission rules.


Iceland resumed limited whaling aimed at scientific research last year after a 14-year hiatus.


So-called research whaling allows nations such as Japan and Iceland to harvest whales for scientific purposes, but the practice is dismissed by opponents as commercial whaling in disguise since the whale meat is sold on the commercial market.


If commercial whaling is to resume, Palmer said fresh safeguards and controls need to be put in place by the Commission, including removing the "scientific whaling" provision which will allow Japan to hunt more than 760 whales this year.


The IWC also has no effective way of enforcing its international rules or punishing violators, he said.


"There must be changes to the enforcement provisions if there is to be a resumption of commercial whaling," he added.


Palmer said damage inflicted on whale stocks by past wholesale commercial slaughter has not been repaired since the moratorium came into force, "neither is there any pressing human need to kill whales."


Nations still hunting whales are scheduled to harvest more than 1,550 of the mammals this year, he said.


Source: Associated Press


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