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Irish whaling plan opposed as commission meets

By Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

AUSTRALIA: Ireland's proposal for a global whale sanctuary, which would also permit limited hunting within 200-mile limits, will be one of the most controversial issues for debate when the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meets in Australia today.

The compromise proposal, first submitted three years ago in an attempt to end the impasse over the future of the whale, has split the environmental community.

Loopholes in the current moratorium on whaling have allowed Japan and Norway to continue hunting the threatened species, and both states are pushing to have the ban lifted altogether.

A coalition of 140 campaign groups worldwide, including 13 from Ireland, has issued a statement opposing the Irish motion. The coalition called on the Government to reconsider its position, saying the move would "revive a global whaling industry and a market for whale meat which would destroy the world's surviving whale populations".

"About 40 per cent of the world's oceans lie within the 200mile limits of coastal states," said Mr Andy Ottaway, a former Greenpeace member and director of the British-based Campaign Whale organisation. "Nearly all of the world's whales spend part, if not the majority, of their lives within these waters when feeding, migrating, breeding or nursing young. These whale populations are under increasing stress."

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