The annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission began in London on Monday (26 June).?
The annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission began in London on Monday (26 June). The main item on the agenda for the five-day conference is a decision on the number of whales to be killed during the next year. The meeting is also expected to discuss a moratorium on all whaling, This plan was put forward by Panama, but they backed down just before the conference started. However, it's expected that other countries may yet take in up.
SYNOPSIS: Demonstrators belonging to rival groups waited outside London's Mount Royal Hotel for the arrival of the delegates.
Environmental groups such as the Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have organised a "Whale Action Week" to coincide with the IWC meeting. They want to stop the killings because, they say, some types of whales 'are close to becoming extinct.
Some pressure groups want a 10-year-ban while others say Whales should never be killed again.
But a rival lobby, which includes Japanese fishermen, would like fewer controls on whaling. The Japanese say whale meat is important to their diet and traditions.
This is the 30th annual meeting of the Commission, which began operating in 1948.
It was set up to promote whaling activities that started expanding after the last world war, and to co-ordinate the activities of various whaling nations. The Soviet Union and Japan together kill some 75 percent of those landed annually.
Panama's decision to drop its call for a 10-year moratorium brought charges by environmentalists that Japan had brought pressure to bear on the Latin American nation. Both Panama and Japan denied the allegation.
Last year, an estimated 30,000 whales were killed. The International Commission has no means of policing the annual quotas it puts on various whale species. In mid-June, the London "Sunday Times" printed a letter apparently from an anonymous Russian scientist. He said one Soviet whaling ship with a Japanese IWC observer on board went over its whale quota by at least 2,000. Japan has denied this.