"Whaling group backs conservation"

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Posted by Sadie from ? ( on Monday, June 23, 2003 at 1:45PM :

Non-profit conservation groups can really make a positive difference if they keep at it.
Nature 423, 789 (19 June 2003)

Whaling group backs conservation


The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has voted in favour of a fundamental shift in its remit, formally recognizing for the first time that conservation is part of its job.

The decision, carried by 25 votes to 20, was made on 16 June at the commission's 55th annual meeting, held in Berlin. Members agreed to set up a conservation committee within the IWC, which will examine the effect of whaling and other activities, such as commercial fishing, on a broad range of cetacean species. Until now, the IWC primarily considered how to manage the whaling industry.

But the vote leaves a deep rift in the commission. Countries that support commercial whaling, such as Japan, Norway and Iceland, all said that they will not participate in or fund the new committee. Minoru Morimoto, Japan's commissioner at the IWC, said that the decision to protect all whales irrespective of conservation status undermined more than ten years of work by the IWC's scientific committee into sustainable commercial whaling.

The vote was enthusiastically received by more than 40 conservation groups that supported it. They hope that the committee will address issues such as the 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises that are killed each year when they become entangled in fishing nets. "This is a historic day for cetacean conservation," says Susan Lieberman, who led a delegation at the IWC talks sent by the environmental organization the WWF.

2003 Nature Publishing Group

-- Sadie
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