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Japan proposes end to ban on commercial whaling
Japan proposed an end to a ban on commercial whaling at an international conference on Monday, sparking criticism.
Japan's representatives argued at an International Whaling Commission meeting that the populations of some whales that are protected under the decades-long ban have sufficiently recovered enough to be hunted, The Guardian reports.
They argued that the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling was originally implemented to manage the sustainable use of global whale stocks and intended to be temporary.
"Science is clear: there are certain species of whales whose population is healthy enough to be harvested sustainably," the Japanese proposal said, according to the international news outlet. "Japan proposes to establish a committee dedicated to sustainable whaling (including commercial whaling and aboriginal subsistence whaling)."
The proposal, titled Way Forward, called for the international body to change its decisionmaking process to make it easier for Japan to end the ban and also called for an end to years of "intolerance" and "confrontation" between nations.
Japan's criticism of the commercial whaling ban has soured relations with countries against the practice, like Australia and New Zealand, the news outlet noted.
"The Australian people have clearly made a decision that they don't believe that whaling is something that we should be undertaking in the 21st century," Anne Ruston, Australia's assistant minister for international development and the Pacific, said in a quote obtained by The Guardian.
"The argument that we put forward from Australia is that we don't want to see any whales killed, whether they're killed because [of] commercial whaling or whether it's so-called scientific whaling," he added.
"Now is not the time to step backwards," New Zealand's foreign minister, Winston Peters, said of the proposal, according to the publication. "New Zealand continues to support the moratorium on commercial whaling. We want to see the commission's efforts on whale conservation strengthened, not weakened."
The killing of whales is currently permitted for research purposes by the commission under a clause included in its ban on commercial whaling.