PARIS: Nations will square off in Slovenia next week over the fate of hundreds of whales in the crosshairs of Japanese and Greenland hunters accused of sidestepping a commercial killing ban.
The stage is set for fiery debate among International Whaling Commission (IWC) members, touching on issues of national sovereignty, aboriginal rights and the conservation of Earth’s bounty.
Trigger issues are Tokyo’s plans to relaunch its Antarctic whale hunt despite a ruling of the UN’s highest court, and a bid for Greenland’s subsistence whaling quota to be enlarged.
“We are dealing with some contentious issues and the positions of the countries at the meeting remain far apart,” Ryan Wulff, deputy United States commissioner to the IWC, told AFP.
In a statement pointing to stormy waters ahead, the IWC said it had moved “complex” issues to the top of the agenda to “allow maximum time for the 88 member governments to find ways of reaching consensus”.
The commission’s 65th meeting runs in the Adriatic resort of Portoroz from Monday to Thursday its first since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in March ordered a stop to Japan’s annual Antarctic hunt.
Japan cancelled its 2014/15 season but has vowed to restart the campaign.
Commercial whaling is banned under a 1986 IWC moratorium, which has seen a rebound of many species hunted to near-extinction well into the 20th century.
It allows killing only for “purposes of scientific research” and for aboriginal communities in North America, Russia, Greenland and the Caribbean nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with a tradition of eating whale meat.