The International Whaling Commission (IWC) holds a meeting in Sorrento, Italy to discuss the future of an 18 years ban for commercial whaling. The representatives of 57 nations on this meeting will discuss if the ban needs to be canceled or not. A group of IWC members led by Japan, Norway and Iceland insist, that the moratorium is no longer necessary.
Until now, anti-whaling nations led by the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Britain have been the majority of the members of the International Whaling Commission. They have managed to keep an 18 year moratorium on whale hunting in place, but support to end the ban has been growing, reports Voice of America.
According to Reuters, Japan has lost the first battle in a war to turn back years of anti-hunting agreements at the International Whaling Commission on Monday when countries rejected its motion to hold votes in secret.
Anti-whalers say secret votes would let countries proclaim their opposition to whaling in public while cutting backroom deals to let it happen.
Norway has ignored the ban, while Japan and Iceland's whaling fleets have been allowed annual quotas of some species for "scientific" purposes. Opponents have said this amounts to nothing but commercial whaling in disguise.
"We have been perplexed to realize that a whale that consumes three-to-four times its own body weight continues to be seen as a resource that should be untouched by humans at a time that the nations of the world strive to find food for their people," the representative of new member Suriname said.
Conservation groups dismiss such arguments, saying whales mostly feed in areas and on organisms not fished by humans.
They accuse Japan of trying to buy votes among the newer members. Four of the six states joining this year, Tuvalu, Mauritania, Ivory Coast and Suriname are broadly in line with Japan's position.
"Some of the poorest developing countries in the world are being used to vote in favor of whaling," said Greenpeace campaigner John Frizell. "This is a clear case of money talks."