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The BBC's Linda Duffin
"Both sides say they will continue with fierce lobbying"
 real 28k

The BBC's Cathy Jenkins
"The Japanese and Norwegian delegates made no secret of their disappointment"
 real 28k

Saturday, 15 April, 2000, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Japan and Norway lose whale vote
Protest banner
Whales and elephants have caused heated debate at the convention
Japan and Norway have failed in their controversial bid to overturn an international ban on the commercial trade in whales.

Delegates at the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in Nairobi blocked four separate proposals which would have allowed a limited trade in grey and minke whales.

Campaigners against whale hunting were delighted at the decision, saying that any other outcome would have opened the way to full-scale commercial whaling.

Conservation group Greenpeace International said trade in any whale population would have an impact on all others.

Norwegian whaling ship
Norway and Japan wanted to resume whale hunting

"Allowing trade would only encourage illegal whaling and spell disaster for whale populations the world over," spokesman John Frizell said.

Japan and Norway had argued that a controlled trade would not harm whale populations, and said "fundamentalists" opposed to the whale trade were leading Cites.

"This is a very small defeat for Norway, but a very large defeat for science and international cooperation," said Peter Schei, who led Norway's delegation, at the meeting.

The two whaling nations needed to win a two-thirds majority in order to get their proposals through, but in the event they were in the minority in every vote.

Japanese representatives said they were disappointed with the result, but accepted the outcome and would not try to reopen the issue.

The head of the Japanese delegation, Akira Takamatsu, said Japan believed it had provided sufficient data to show that limited hunting of the grey whale could be allowed without endangering the species.

Both countries say stocks of minkes are sufficient not to endanger the survival of the species.

Worldwide moratorium

The International Whaling Commission imposed a worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, but Norway objected to the ban and has continued hunting.

It caught almost 600 minke whales in its coastal waters last year and Japan took over 400 minkes, mostly in Antarctica, under a clause allowing catches for scientific research.

Norwegians eat whale meat as steaks or in stews, but do not consume the blubber, which in Japan is a delicacy, eaten raw.

Blubber oil is also used in burning lamps, while the oil of sperm whales, when they were hunted, was used in making perfume.

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See also:

04 Apr 00 | Africa
Ivory trade: Horns of a dilemma
05 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
'Torture chamber' agony of China's bears
10 Feb 99 | Sci/Tech
Ivory ban lifted
09 Feb 99 | Sci/Tech
Shoot an elephant, save a species
08 Sep 99 | Africa
A jumbo-sized dilemma in Zambia
16 Jul 99 | Africa
Japan imports African ivory
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