South Korea plans to resume whaling
on 05/07/2012 14:11:25
They suspect the plans may be a cover for commercial whaling.
South Korean officials informed the International Whaling Commission during an IWC meeting this week in Panama.
The whaling would be aimed only at studying the types and amounts of fish whales eat as fishermen complain an increasing number of whales are consuming large amounts of fish stocks, officials said.
The IWC gives member states sovereign rights to scientific whaling but South Korea will still give up its whaling plans if the international organisation rejects them, the officials said.
Environmental groups condemned the South Korean plans as a back-door effort to make the country only the fourth to allow commercial whaling, which has been banned since 1986.
Various exceptions have allowed Japan, Iceland and Norway to hunt whales anyway. Indigenous groups in several countries also whale as allowed under international rules.
Japan claims its hunts are for research purposes, though the meat from the killed whales mostly ends up in restaurants, stores and school lunches. South Korean officials said they have not decided what to do with the whale meat following the studies.
The leaders of Australia and New Zealand quickly condemned South Korea's plans and said they would raise diplomatic protests.
"We think it would be a terrible step in the wrong direction," New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said during a visit to Sydney.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard told a news conference that she was "very disappointed" at the South Korean announcement. "We are completely opposed to whaling, there's no excuse for scientific whaling," she said.
"We believe this move is a thinly veiled attempt by Korea to conduct commercial whaling under the guise of scientific research, similar to hunts conducted by Japan in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary," said Wendy Elliott, head of global environmental group WWF's delegation to IWC.