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Australia and New Zealand have proposed that the International Whaling Commission designate a wide area of water between Australia and Chile as a whale sanctuary, Japanese Fisheries Agency sources said Sunday.

The plan to expand the sanctuary from the Antarctic Ocean into waters north of 40 degrees south latitude and up to the equator will be discussed at the IWC’s 52nd annual meeting to be held July 3-6 in Adelaide, southern Australia.

Britain and the United States are likely to support the two countries when the plan is submitted, the sources said.

Japan, which continues to hunt minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean even though the IWC declared the waters a sanctuary in 1994, will strongly oppose the plan during the meeting, the sources said.

More than three-quarters of the votes of voting countries in the 40-member commission are required to designate the area a sanctuary.

Japan claims its hunting is for purposes of scientific research, but antiwhaling countries point out that whale meat is still sold in Japan.

The westernmost extensions of the proposed sanctuary are at 141 degrees east, just above Papua New Guinea, and 130 degrees east, just below Australia, while the easternmost line is at 120 degrees west, some way off the coast of Chile.

The zone covers waters Japan has been eyeing for declared commercial whaling, claiming protection has led to an increase in the whale population, causing an imbalance in the ecosystem due to consumption of marine life by whales.

Japan has hunted minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean since 1987 and in the northern Pacific Ocean since 1994, officially killing 500 whales each year.

In May, Japan told the IWC it plans to hunt 50 Bryde’s whales and 10 sperm whales in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, also for what it calls research purposes.

Ban eyed for tin paint

The International Maritime Organization is drafting a treaty to completely ban the use of organotin compounds, which are used in antifouling paint on ships to prevent the attachment of seashells and alga, Transport Ministry sources said Sunday.

The paint is considered an ecological risk because it may poison important marine organisms when dissolved into the sea and is suspected to be a hormone disrupter, according to the U.N. agency’s Marine Environment Protection Committee.

The committee is drafting the treaty, called the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems, and aims to have it adopted in 2001.

According to the draft, the application or reapplication of organotin compounds acting as biocides in antifouling systems on ships will be banned from Jan. 1, 2003.

The 26-article draft also requires ships not to have such compounds on their hulls or external parts or surfaces after Jan. 1, 2008.

While the draft only bans the use of organotin compounds, other substances will be added to the list should they be found to be toxic, the draft said.

The convention is expected to be formally decided on at a committee scheduled in October after committee members discuss related issues, including whether to require ships to remove old antifouling paints containing organotin compounds, the sources said.