• Kyodo

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Advocates and opponents of whaling on Tuesday continued their campaigns outside the convention center in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, where the general assembly of the International Whaling Commission is being held.

Prowhalers welcomed delegates from like-minded countries before the start of the second day of the meeting by clapping and waving banners reading, “Excessive protection of whales creates an imbalance in the marine ecosystem.”

Members of the environmentalist group Greenpeace set up a banner calling for “Sanctuaries not quotas.”

The opposing sides held heated discussions in front of reporters and TV cameras.

“It is necessary to effectively use marine resources, including whales,” said a prowhaler, while a Greenpeace member expressed concern over the levels of toxic substances, including polychlorinated biphenyl and mercury, found in whales.

Separately, a group called Elsa Nature Conservancy held a news conference featuring Izumi Ishii, a 54-year-old fisherman from the village of Futo in Shizuoka Prefecture who used to catch and eat dolphins but is now promoting dolphin-watching instead.

“I hope my move will encourage fellow fishermen by showing the benefits they can receive without the bloody slaughter of dolphins,” said Ishii, who stopped hunting dolphins out of anger at what he said were attempts by the government and the local fishery cooperative to cover up incidents in which protected dolphins were mistakenly caught.

The 54th IWC general assembly runs until Friday.

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