By Tim Hirsch
BBC's environment correspondent
Representatives from more than 50 nations meet in the Italian city of Sorrento on Monday to discuss the state of the world's whale stocks.
Pro-whaling nations argue there are enough stocks to resume hunting
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is deadlocked on the question of whether the animals should be hunted.
Japan is threatening to set up a new pro-whaling alliance.
The IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986 - though hundreds of whales are still killed for so-called scientific purposes.
The IWC has been divided, with pro-whaling nations, such as Japan, Norway and Iceland, arguing each year that stocks have recovered enough to lift the ban.
WHALING SINCE THE BAN
The number of whales killed by Japan, Norway and Iceland since the IWC moratorium took effect in 1986 is 25,239
Most whales are killed with harpoons designed to explode inside them, though small traditional coastal communities use other methods
Average estimated time to death is more than 2mins, say opponents, with some whales taking over an hour to die
But opponents, including Britain and the US, say the commission should concentrate on conservation and activities such as whale watching.
At this week's meeting in Italy, there will be yet another attempt to get a majority for resuming commercial whaling.
Japan has threatened to set up an alternative international body if the paralysis of the commission continues.
The IWC was set up after World War Two to regulate the whale hunting industry.