India to opposes commercial whaling at Santiago meeting

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New Delhi, Jun 23 (UNI) India will put up stiff opposition to commercial whaling at the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission that opened at the Chilean capital of Santiago today.

''Our consistent stand has been that we want only non-consumptive use of whales, as opposed to countries like Japan who want their commercial use arguing that their communities were dependent on it,'' DIG Wildlife R B lal told UNI before leaving for the meeting.

He said the Commission had put a ban on commercial whaling in 1986, but Japan and other nations have been hunting whales in large numbers every year, taking advantage of a provision that allows the killing of some whales for scientific research.

Mr Lal said Japan might come with a proposal for lifting this ban in the ''interest'' of its communities, but India will, along with other countries oppose it.

He said in India too, some communities could be said to be dependent on whaling but but that was more for non-consumptive use of it, like whale watching.

Environmental groups and wildlife NGOs have been pointing out that the provision to allow whaling for scientific purposes had been misused as whaling has been resorted to for commercial purposes, like marketing of its meat in some Asian countries.

Australia had along with New Zealand even threatened to take Japan to international court over the issue.

Meetings of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) have been marked by acrimony with Japan over the issue. It is estimated Japan kills some 1,000 whales a year.

The IWC was set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which was signed in Washington DC December 2, 1946.

The purpose of the Convention is to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.

The Commission is mandated to review and revise the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which govern the conduct of whaling throughout the world These measures envisage complete protection of certain species and designate specified areas as whale sanctuaries.

They also; set limits on the numbers and size of whales which may be taken,prescribe open and closed seasons and areas for whaling, and and prohibit the capture of suckling calves and female whales accompanied by calves.

The compilation of catch reports and other statistical and biological records is also listed as its duties.

The Commission also encourages, co-ordinates and funds whale research, publishes the results of scientific research and promotes studies into related matters.

UNI NAZ RR HT1500

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