US urges Britain to back commercial whaling plan
The US is urging Britain to end its opposition to a controversial plan to save thousands of whales over the next 10 years by allowing commercial whaling, but with tighter international controls.
The plan aims to cut the number of whales killed by Japan, Norway and Iceland by 5,000 over a decade, but it would shelve the goal of an outright ban on commercial whaling -- a compromise that none of the three leading British parties has so far been willing to endorse.
Senior US officials said that British support for the plan is vital if the rest of the 25-member EU bloc on the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is to be persuaded to back it.
"We believe that the system is not working," Monica Medina, the US commissioner to the IWC, said in an interview. "We want to conserve whales, and we hope that other governments feel the same way."
A worldwide moratorium on whaling was passed in 1986 -- but the total catch by big whaling nations has risen steadily to about 1,700 a year, with Japan and Norway exploiting a loophole in the treaty to set their own catch limits for so-called scientific whaling.
The US-backed deal would seek to tighten loopholes and cut commercial whaling by about half. It would require whaling nations to accept monitors on their ships and to provide DNA samples from every whale caught. In exchange, the outright ban on whaling would be dropped. (©The Times, London)