POLL: Should whales and dolphins be protected in the South Atlantic?

POLL: Should whales and dolphins be protected in the South Atlantic?

Japan and other pro-whaling nations have defeated a proposal to create an sanctuary for whales in the South Atlantic.

The push to create the protected area during a biennial meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was defeated after 38 countries voted yes and 24 against, as proposals at the conference require 75% of votes to pass. Two abstained.

Although the proposal has been defeated in previous years and was expected to fail this time around too because of opposition by Japan, Norway and Iceland, conservation groups were dismayed by the result.

The tail of a emerges from the waters of the South Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Argentina. Photograph: Jose Luis Pasten/AP

“There is an urgent need for us to better protect our whales, dolphins and porpoises. This sanctuary would have done just that and supported the growth of sustainable watching tourism and fostered much-needed research,” said Josh Coates, marine campaigner with the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

“Once again whaling nations have stood in the way of progress, despite the IWC’s own scientific committee approving the plan for the sanctuary.”

Greenpeace noted that the sanctuary was being blocked by countries far from the the South Atlantic aligning themselves with the whaling nations.

John Frizell, a whales expert with the group, said: “What is the most disappointing is that all these efforts are ultimately being undermined by IWC member countries who are thousands of miles away, not even in the southern hemisphere and some even on the other side of the world. Conversely, all members with territory in the proposed sanctuary, fully support it.”

Matt Collis of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said: “It is very disappointing that once again, a proposal for a South Atlantic sanctuary has been harpooned.”

Also on the agenda at the IWC meeting in Slovenia is a resolution put forward by Australia that would require Japan to get approval from the IWC for its “scientific” quotas. That move is also expected to be blocked.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 25 Oct 2016.

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