Japan walkout throws whaling talks into disarray

Plans for a whaling sanctuary in the southern Atlantic were put off by a year Thursday after Japan and other pro-whaling nations stalled talks on the proposal at the International Whaling Commission.

Delegates from Japan, Iceland and a number of allied Caribbean and African nations walked out when the issue came up at the IWC’s annual talks in Jersey, throwing the meeting into disarray.

They later returned to the IWC floor but no agreement was reached on the issue, which was put on hold until next year’s IWC meeting to be held in Panama.

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Japan Cancelled Annual Whale Hunt

Conservationists were cautiously celebrating today after Japan announced it was suspending its annual whale hunt, claiming its fleet’s safety had been compromised by antiwhaling activists in the Antarctic.It isn’t clear if the order to stop whaling amounts to the beginning of the end of Japan’s annual mission to the freezing waters of the Southern Ocean. But it is the strongest sign yet that international criticism, direct action, and weak consumption of whale meat at home are having an impact.The official line, supported almost without dissent in the Japanese media, is that the actions of the whaling fleet’s nemesis, the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group, have put the crew’s safety at risk.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, fisheries agency official Tatsuya Nakaoku said the fleet’s mother ship, the Nisshin Maru, had been "harassed" by the Sea Shepherd vessel the Bob Barker.The Japanese ship is now reported to be 2,000 nautical miles east of the hunting zone and heading towards Chilean waters in the Antarctic Ocean.Sea Shepherd, meanwhile, says this winter’s campaign has been its best yet. The fleet is thought to have caught only a small number of whales – between 30 and 100 by one estimate – since it arrived in the whaling grounds at the end of December.

Read the rest of the story: Is Sea Shepherds harassment helping to end Japan’s annual whale hunt?.

Japan whaling bribery claims of prostitutes and better aid reported ‘common knowledge’

A conservation activist says an investigation into claims that Japan bribes small nations for their support on whaling is confirmation of what has been common knowledge for a long time.

Two reporters from Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper posed as the lobbyists of a fictional Swiss billionaire and set out to buy votes at next week’s International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting.

Six countries told the reporters they were willing to consider their offer, but the reporters were told they would need to better the aid the countries are already getting from the Japanese.

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Japan proposes to cut minke whale catch quota in Antarctic Sea

Japan has proposed catching up to 440 southern minke whales for what it calls research purposes in the Antarctic Ocean, down from 935 at present, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday. Japan made the proposal to an informal meeting of representatives from a small group of International Whaling Commission members before the IWC’s annual assembly in June.

Read more of the story: Japan proposes sharp cut in minke whale catch quota in Antarctic Sea