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International Whaling Commission

2002-6-20

This is the VOA SpecialEnglish ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

Delegations from around the world attended a yearly meeting ofthe International Whaling Commission last month in Japan. Thecommission is deeply divided about the issue of whale hunting.Countries including Japan want to lift the ban on whale huntingordered in nineteen-eighty-six. Countries including the UnitedStates support the ban.

The whaling commission defeated aproposal to permit limited whale hunting for native people in theUnited States and Russia. These native people depend on whale meatfor food.

The commission voted to continue the worldwide ban on whalehunting. Japan has fought to end the ban on hunting some kinds ofwhales. Whale hunting is a cultural tradition in Japan.

Environmental groups are opposed to killing whales. But Japansays whale populations have risen sharply since the ban wasestablished.

A year after the ban, Japan began hunting hundreds of whales.Japanese officials said these yearly hunts are necessary in order tostudy how whales feed and move in the oceans.

Japan is permitted to sell meat collected during these whalehunts. But opponents dispute the value of Japan's research. They sayJapan is doing research in order to kill whales. They say whales canbe studied without killing them.

Japan says many kinds of whales have increased quickly and areeating too many fish. It says whales are harming the fishingindustry. But American experts at the conference say there is noscientific evidence that whales are causing a decrease of fish inthe oceans. They say decreasing fish populations are caused bypeople, not whales.

This year, Japan plans to kill seven-hundred whales during huntsin Antarctic waters and the northwestern Pacific Ocean. The huntincludes one kind of whale that the World Conservation Unionconsiders to be endangered.

The international movement against whale hunting is having aneffect in Japan. Some Japanese say they no longer want to eat whalemeat because it costs too much and it is no longer a popular food.

Norway is the only other major whale-hunting nation in theInternational Whaling Commission. Norway objected to theorganization's ban on killing whales and has continued to hunt them.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written byCynthia Kirk.