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Whaling forum seeks to tackle alleged 'buying' of votes

The International Whaling Commission has opened its 63rd annual talks with Britain proposing measures to tackle alleged internal corruption and to encourage transparency.

Smudges of red paint hurled by anti-whaling activists are seen on the bow of Japan's whaling ship Nisshin Maru moored at a port in Tokyo, Friday, March 25, 2011.
Smudges of red paint hurled by anti-whaling activists are seen on the bow of Japan's whaling ship Nisshin Maru moored at a port in Tokyo, Friday, March 25, 2011.
Image: Itsuo Inouye/AP/Press Association Images

THE INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION opened annual talks today, with Britain proposing measures to tackle alleged corruption and to encourage transparency within the 89-nation-strong organisation.

Speaking in Jersey, Britain’s junior environment minister Richard Benyon told AFP: “We think its procedures need modernising and we are coming forward with the bare minimum of requirements for an international organisation in the modern age”.

Pro-whaling countries Norway and Iceland are expected to receive criticism by anti-whaling nations over the continuation of commercial whaling but Japan is not expected to face the same level of disapproval in the wake of the country’s devastating tsunami and ongoing nuclear crisis. However conservation groups are urging nations not to give votes to Japan out of sympathy, reports ABC News.

UK Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “There’s been a huge loss of life in coastal communities in Japan, including among many in the fishing industry and those associated with whaling – that’s understood, and our sympathies go out to them,” the BBC reports. He added “we do disagree on whaling, and we aim to… have a constructive conversation about it”.

Australia’s environment minister Tony Burke has made it clear that he believes whaling and the tsunami to be two entirely separate issues, and has vowed to take a strong anti-whaling stance, reports the Herald Sun.

It is unclear whether Japan plans to proceed with its annual Antarctic whale hunt.

Last year the chronically-divided IWC was shocked by British reports that Japan had offered Caribbean and African countries cash for votes, the Mail & Guardian.

Read: Japan wants international action against anti-whaling group >

Read: Japan temporarily halts Antarctic whaling >

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