PORTOROZ, SLOVENIA - The International Whaling Commission has decided to set up a fund to help cash-strapped developing nations and make a Japanese official the next chairman.
The new fund, proposed by Japan and other countries as the IWC wrapped up its general meeting in Slovenia on Friday, is aimed at providing financial assistance to countries unable to send delegates to its meetings. This year’s meeting was attended by about 65 of 88 members.
While the fund is intended to help more countries send delegates, bickering between the pro-whaling and anti-whaling camps could escalate further. At present, the 88 members are almost equally divided.
Many of the developing nations eligible to receive the aid are believed to support whaling. Major issues at the IWC, including whether to resume commercial whaling, require a three-fourths majority vote to pass.
At the five-day biennial meeting, the IWC selected Japanese representative Joji Morishita to be the next chairman of the world whaling body.
It also passed a nonbinding resolution that asks Japan or any IWC member to get approval from the body in order to continue hunting.
Previously, IWC members could conduct “research whaling” with a stipulation, passed in 2014, that plans must be submitted for review in advance by the body’s Scientific Committee.
The new resolution makes no exception for research whaling and will thus tighten scrutiny of the practice.
Japan halted commercial whaling in accordance with an international moratorium that took force in 1986. But it began hunting them again for what it said were scientific purposes in the Antarctic in 1987 and in the Northwest Pacific in 1994.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled in March 2014 that Japan’s whale hunts lacked scientific grounds and ordered them stopped. The decision resulted in a hiatus, but Japan restarted whaling late last year.