Australia, Japan clash over whaling


Japan and Australia have clashed over the issue of whaling as the Asian nation tries to gather support for its whaling hunt to resume next year.

Pro and anti-whaling countries have clashed at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission, where Japan has signalled its intention to resume scientific hunting next year.

In March the International Court of Justice ruled Japan's annual whale hunt in the Antarctic illegal, finding it was carried out for commercial, not scientific, purposes.

While Japan abandoned its whaling program in the Southern Ocean for the current financial year following the ruling, its delegation at the IWC conference in Portoroz, Slovenia, has sought backing for a resumption.

It has been negotiating to amend the criteria that govern international whaling, so that it would once again be able to engage in scientific hunts.

Australia opposes the plan, and said Japan had failed to convince the meeting that its hunting was not for the commercial purpose of producing meat and oil.

Australia's commissioner Michael Johnson said "lethal scientific research is simply not necessary".

New Zealand has filed a draft resolution to defer any new permits for scientific whaling for two years with Australia’s backing.

But conservation group Sea Shepherd Australia was not hopeful it would get widespread support among the 88 member countries.

Spokesman Adam Burling said the IWC had a long history of allowing scientific whaling, and Sea Shepherd does not see the organisation as a body that will protect the rights of whales.

He warned that even if a resolution passes, Japan could ignore it.

"Japan has traditionally used the scientific permits to conduct their hunts,” he said. “So Japan seems to be relying on that endorsement."

“But like Norway and Iceland, Japan could entirely ignore the IWC and conduct its own whaling activities without the scientific permit.”

Sea Shepherd has vowed to confront Japanese whalers at sea if they resume hunting.

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