Japan can continue
to hunt some 1,000 whales per year for scientific purposes after the
International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Santiago agreed Wednesday to postpone
any far- reaching decisions on the protection of these cetaceans.
The delegates formed a 20-country negotiating group to work on a proposal that will be submitted to the 2009 IWC meeting in Portugal.
The move brought criticism from environmental organizations, who complained about the consensus reached in Chile.
"They cannot give in to just one country," said Aimee Leslie, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
Greenpeace said the move guarantees nothing and excludes civil society from the negotiating process.
However, government delegates favoured the consensus option.
Now, the negotiating commission will have to deal with all the issues that the plenum failed to vote on, including the moratorium on commercial whale hunting, new rules for scientific whaling and administrative modernization at the IWC.
The idea was to avoid confrontation, as a first step to set aside hurdles for dialogue, said Chilean delegate, Ambassador Cristian Maquieira.
This year Japan allowed the hunt of over 1,000 whales for its scientific programme, a prerogative it enjoys in accordance with the IWC statute. In the end, Japanese boats hunted 709 Minke whales in the Antarctic and in the northern Pacific, along with 100 Sei whales, 50 Bryde's whales and three sperm whales.
The IWC is holding its 60th annual meeting until Friday in Santiago, dpa reported.