AGADIR, Morocco (Reuters) - Talks on replacing a whaling moratorium with a controlled cull are likely to fail this week because anti-whaling countries are giving no ground, Norway’s delegate to the meeting said on Tuesday.
Japan, Norway and Iceland have caught thousands of whales since a worldwide moratorium came into force a quarter of a century ago when some species came close to extinction.
A compromise being discussed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in the Moroccan port city of Agadir would allow the three countries to hunt a limited number of whales for 10 years under strict controls.
The pro-whaling camp has criticised the proposed compromise, calling it a ruse to outlaw all whaling once the quotas expire, while some anti-whaling campaigners have attacked the draft as a sell-out to whalers.
“As we can see it today, we do not believe these negotiations will succeed,” said Karsten Klepsvick, Norwegian Commissioner to the IWC.
“There are at least eight, ten stumbling blocks, but the main stumbling block is that those who are against whaling seem to be willing to accept nothing but nil (quotas), and we cannot accept that,” he told reporters.
Green campaigners and anti-whaling nations say the answer lies not in lifting the moratorium but in stricter enforcement of the arrangement. They say data on whale numbers put forward by pro-whaling groups are too unreliable to justify removing the moratorium.
“Any proposal that comes onto the floor of the commission that seeks to remove in effect the moratorium on commercial whaling ... in our view should not be adopted nor voted on,” said Australia’s Environment Minister Peter Garrett.
Whaling campaigners say the outcome of the conference could come down to the position taken by Japan, which hunts hundreds of whales each season for what it says are research purposes.
What stance Japan chooses to take will depend on the outcome of horse-trading at the meeting, in particular over the size of the quotas and the species of whale to which they apply.
Norway is willing to consider any constructive proposals that accept the legal right of some nations to hunt for whales, Klepsvick said.