3 Mar 2010

Nations meet to discuss compromise deal on whaling

4:05 pm on 3 March 2010

Key nations in the commercial whaling debate are meeting in the United States to discuss a compromise deal over the divisive issue.

Despite a moratorium on commercial whaling introduced in 1986, Japan continues to hunt whales in Antarctica, exploiting a loophole for lethal scientific research.

New Zealand and Australia have consistently opposed Japan's killing of hundreds of whales each year in the Southern Ocean, the ABC reports.

Delegates meeting near St Petersburg in Florida are considering a proposal put forward by the International Whaling Commission to allow Japan, Iceland and Norway to commercially hunt whales, but under strict monitoring and with steep reductions in numbers over the next 10 years.

Australia is trying to stop Japanese whaling in the Antarctic and has put forward its own proposal.

The meeting is a preliminary session ahead of a full meeting of the IWC in Morocco in June. It is closed to the media but lobby groups are there to observe and say the atmosphere is cordial.

In February, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave Japan until November this year to stop whaling in the Antarctic.

Japan's Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu has said it will push for a resumption of commercial whaling at the meeting in Morocco.