1 Jun 2006

Marshalls Islands joins IWC

1:39 pm on 1 June 2006

The Marshall Islands has joined the International Whaling Commission.

But the government in Majuro has declined to say whether it supports Japan's push for a lifting of the commercial whaling ban.

The Marshalls has joined just days before a vote on the issue at the IWC meeting in St Kitts and Nevis.

The Australian Environment Minister has also visited Majuro this week to lobby leaders against lifting the ban.

But officials are also being lobbied hard by Japan, the island's third largest aid donor, to vote in support of lifting it.

The director of the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority, Glen Joseph says however that they will make their own decision.

"We are aware of concerns on both sides and we are aware of the tensions on both sides. We are however going to make the decision on our own grounds and our own judgement of how the issues are presented at the commission."

Mr Joseph says his country is under pressure from both Australia and Japan to join the Commission.