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Japan decries whaling commission's new conservation agenda

Japanese whalers attacked a decision by the International Whaling Commission to strengthen its conservation agenda, and the government warned Japan was reviewing its membership in the global body.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2003 12:36 IST

Japanese whalers attacked a decision by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to strengthen its conservation agenda, and the government warned Japan was reviewing its membership in the global body.

Creation of a conservation committee within the IWC yesterday threatens Japan's research whaling program as well as the country's small-scale whalers who currently operate outside IWC guidelines, said Takanori Nagatomo of the fisheries ministry.

Nagatomo said Tokyo is formulating a response to the move and said pulling out of the 50-nation organization 'is one possibility'.

Japan, Norway and other pro-whaling nations argue that the resolution, passed at the IWC's annual meeting in Berlin, fundamentally shifts the IWC mandate away from the support of a sustainable whaling industry.

"I think it is possible that Japan's whaling culture could be in danger if things would remain as they are now," said an official at Tokyo-based Kyodo Senpaku, Japan's only remaining offshore whaling company.

Nagatomo said the decision could also undermine the handful of small-time whalers that hunt in coastal waters. They harvest species outside the IWC's purview, such as pilot whales, but have repeatedly requested IWC permission to expand their catch to minke whales, a species regulated under international agreement.

First Published: Jun 18, 2003 12:36 IST