Whaling showdown delayed for a year

* Rick Wallace, Tokyo correspondent
* From: The Australian
* June 24, 2010 12:00AM

THE international talks on the future of whaling appeared close to
collapse last night with reports that a compromise plan allowing a
limited resumption of commercial whaling would now be put on hold for a

Representatives of several European nations said the plan would now be
debated by the International Whaling Commission again in a year after
attempts to bridge the divide between pro- and anti-whaling nations
looked to have failed.

Several Japanese newspapers, and the country's main wire service, Kyodo,
reported that the compromise -- devised by IWC chairman Cristian
Maquiera -- would now be subject to a one year "cooling-off period".

The expected failure of the plan at the commission meeting in Morocco
means Japan would continue its legally dubious "scientific" whaling
program in the Southern Ocean.

Under the compromise, this would have been abandoned in favour of a
quota allowing Japan to kill 410 whales in the Southern Ocean in each of
the next five years and 205 whales annually from 2015-2020.

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A senior European official attending the meeting said European
anti-whaling countries had criticised Mr Maquiera's plan for failing to
specify how whale catches in the Antarctic Ocean would be reduced to
zero after 2020.

Japan's Tokyo Shimbun reported that an official from the German
delegation said that "we shall have a cooling-off period".

The newspaper said other European and Latin American delegations had
made similar suggestions but Japanese officials in Morocco refused to

There has been major division at the conference between the anti-whaling
nations, with the US and New Zealand seeking a compromise, and
Australia, which is challenging Japan's scientific whaling in the
International Court of Justice, refusing to give ground.

Japan's Mainichi newspaper reported that there had also been division
among the three main whaling nations with Japan willing to accept the
proposed quotas and Iceland and Norway not wanting to reduce their catch.

The meeting has seen the withdrawal of Mr Maquiera due to ill-health and
heavy criticism of his deputy and acting chairman Anthony Liverpool.

Mr Liverpool, who is from Antigua, has been accused of accepting
Japanese funds paid via a middleman for his hotel and flights in
Morocco. He has also copped flak from Australian Environment Minister
Peter Garrett for holding the first two days of talks behind closed doors.