Anti-Whaling Countries Beat Back Pro-Whaling Plan

Staunchly anti-whaling nations, led by Australia and New Zealand, scored a small victory yesterday at the conclusion of the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission, staving off plans for a vote next year that could have opened the door for lifting the 18-year-old ban on commercial whaling. Pro-whaling countries — most notably Japan, Norway, and Iceland — were pushing for a proposal that would begin allowing commercial whaling in coastal waters, and some moderates — including the U.S. — voiced support for the proposal, arguing that if whaling is going to happen (and it already is happening), it’s better to have it conducted under strict international guidelines than to have nations do their own thing outside the jurisdiction of the IWC. Conservationists, though, say the proposal doesn’t include enough safeguards for whale populations, and they accused the U.S. of backing away from its long-time stance against commercial whaling, a contention the U.S. denies.