International Whaling Commission (IWC) talks in Agadir, Morocco have hit a wall, with the failure of last-minute meetings to reach a compromise on demands for a new commercial hunt. The talks’ sponsor, the US, admitted yesterday that it was at an impasse, despite 30 rounds of meetings over the past two days. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, of New Zealand, said they had failed to end Japan’s Southern Ocean whaling, and that this is expected to resume next summer.
Australian Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett said it was time to close the door on the deal and to reform the IWC. The IWC’s chair, Anthony Liverpool, told the 74 nations at its annual meeting that more discussion was needed, as on the dispute over Southern Ocean whaling, Japan and Australia remain poles apart. Tokyo floated possible cuts from its self-awarded Antarctic scientific quota of 935 minke and 10 fin whales but Mr Garrett said Australia was holding to its demand for a phase down to zero ‘‘in a reasonable period’‘. ‘‘If there isn’t going to be an agreement on the discussions so far …we should close the door on it.”
Instead he said the Australian government wanted to turn attention to the IWC itself, blighted with further allegations of Japanese vote-buying, and the need to introduce whale conservation programs. ‘‘We should continue to work on those things where we can find agreement and where we can deliver good practices for the commission to take forward,’’ Mr. Garrett said. Japanese Fisheries Vice Minister Yasue Funayama warned the meeting that insisting on a cut to zero by Japan was unscientific and would mean the impasse would continue. Ms Funayama also said that despite the failure to reach consensus, she felt that talks should continue.