“The IWC is at a crossroads beset by fundamental disagreements as to its nature and purpose,” the international body said. A moratorium on commercial whaling was agreed in 1986, but Japan continues to skirt the ban in pursuing “scientific research”. Iceland and Norway simply ignore the ban and harpoon whales for commercial use. This week, however, Norway suspended its whale hunt in mid-season, saying industry demand had been satisfied.
Japan reiterated its view that failure to reach agreement eventually could lead to a collapse of the IWC. A spokesman for the Japanese delegation told Reuters that Australia, a key anti-whaling nation, had “brought nothing to the table and all it has done is dig its heels in on scientific whaling”.
Australia’s environment minister, Peter Garrett, said talks on the future of the IWC could not go on forever and did not rule out legal action against pro-whaling nations. Garrett said last week that Australia would oppose a deal that would allow Japan to resume coastal whaling in return for scaling back its annual whale hunt near Antarctica. That option, he said, was not the right way to advance whale conservation.