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Saturday, 9 November, 2002, 03:50 GMT
Japan fails to reverse whaling ban
A harpooned minke whale
Japan says there are enough whales to resume hunting

Japan and the United Kingdom are both losers at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) meeting in the Chilean capital, Santiago.


We are ecstatic. This is the first step toward ensuring that whales will continue to be protected

Vassili Papastavrou, International Fund for Animal Welfare
The convention voted against a Japanese proposal to resume whaling, as well as a British plan to allow a turtle farm in the Cayman Islands to sell turtle shell.

Conservationists have hailed both decisions as important victories, but it is not the end of the battle.

The conference must confirm both votes next week, and both Japan and Britain will be lobbying hard to overturn them.

Whale stocks

Delegates from 160 countries have been meeting for the past week in plenary sessions, debating the science and politics behind attempts to get trade restrictions eased on two species of whale - the Minke and the Bryde - and the green turtle.

Japan, which made the whaling proposal, has argued that there are sufficient stocks to allow limited commercial harvesting.

A pile of illegally hewn mahogany
Another item on the convention's agenda is illegal mahogany logging
Environmentalists simply will not accept the evidence, one Japanese delegate complained.

"They have a pretty determined view that whaling is bad, and no matter how much we endeavour they will find something in our proposal and use it against us," said Shuya Nakatsuka of Japan's Fisheries Agency.

But when it came to the vote the Japanese could not muster a simple majority, let alone the two-thirds they needed to get the proposal accepted.

Environmentalists, on the other hand, are delighted.

"We are ecstatic. This is the first step toward ensuring that whales will continue to be protected under Cites," said Vassili Papastavrou of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Turtle trade

Nor does there seem to be much support for any trade in turtle shell.

Britain wanted to allow a farm in the Cayman Islands to sell endangered green turtle shell to tourists, arguing that the business met all the Cites criteria.

But conservation groups have insisted that any trade encourages an illicit market that could have a devastating impact on wild turtle populations.

"The risk is too great. We've seen it in other species. As soon as you start legitimising one case, it promotes trade," said Sarah Tyack of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The British plans also failed to get a simple majority in Friday's vote.

See also:

03 Nov 02 | Americas
02 Nov 02 | In Depth
01 Nov 02 | Africa
04 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
14 Oct 02 | Science/Nature
13 Oct 02 | Science/Nature
24 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
23 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
18 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


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