Morocco : Nations failed Wednesday to reach a deal to curb whale hunts by Japan, Norway and Iceland that kill hundreds of whales every year — and Japan blamed anti-whaling nations for being intransigent.
The 88 nations of the International Whaling Commission held two days of intense closed-door talks on a proposal to ease the 25-year-old ban on commercial whaling in exchange for smaller kills by the three countries that claim exemptions to the moratorium on hunting for profit.
About 1,500 animals are killed each year by Japan, Norway and Iceland. Japan, which kills the majority of whales, says its hunt is for scientific research — but more whale meat and whale products end up in Japanese restaurants than in laboratories.
Acting IWC chairman Anthony Liverpool told an open meeting Wednesday that “fundamental positions remained very much apart.”
“After nearly three years of discussions, it appears our discussions are at an impasse,” said chief US delegate Monica Medina.
Japanese whaling commissioner Yasue Funayama said her country had offered major concessions to reach a compromise and blamed anti-whaling countries that refused to accept the killing of a single animal.
“We must rise above politics and engage in a broader perspective,” Funayama said.
Anti-whaling countries sought to end Japan’s hunting forays into a southern ocean whaling sanctuary, ban the international trade in whale meat and to set firm quotas for the whaling nations for the next 10 years.
It was not clear what the meeting would do now, since it was scheduled to continue until Friday. New Zealand Commissioner Geoffrey Palmer, who chaired a 12-nation working group that has met a half dozen times over the last year, suggested a yearlong cooling-off period.
Some environmentalists have accused Japan of vote-buying, using development aid money and personal favors to swing small, poorer nations to its side in the whaling debate.
Liverpool, a diplomat from Antigua and Barbuda and its ambassador to Japan, has been quoted by a British paper as admitting that Japanese interests have paid hotel bills for him and says he sees nothing “odd about that.”
The whaling commission was created after World War II to conserve and manage whale stocks. Tens of thousands of animals were killed each year until 1986, when the IWC adopted the moratorium.