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Palau loses bid to restrict Japan hunt

By Bernadette H. Carreon KOROR (Palau Horizon, June 28, 2010) – Palau’s position calling for a limited commercial whale hunt has been defeated after the International Whaling Commission ended without an agreement.

President Johnson Toribiong in a telephone interview said ["We ]will continue to insist on a policy to ensure the conservation of whales."

Toribiong also clarified that Palau’s voting rights were reinstated since June 4 contrary to reports that it was barred from voting for failing to pay their annual fees.

The whaling-moratorium remains but this will not prevent Japan from hunting whale for research.

Under the draft proposal presented by the IWC, Japan would be allowed to catch 120 whales a year in its coastal waters.

The IWC is also under pressure to investigate allegations its deputy chair had his hotel bill paid for by Japan and that delegates are being offered prostitutes in return for their vote.

Palau has decided to drop its support for Japan’s scientific whaling in favor of a halved catch quota proposal pushed by the IWC.

Palau used to be a staunch supporter of Japan’s whale hunting carried out under a loophole in the international whaling ban that allows hunting for scientific purposes.

On June 2, Toribiong discussed Palau’s new position with Japanese envoy Kenro Iino, who traveled to the island.

In the meeting, Toribiong said the Japanese special envoy stressed that the whales consume more fish stocks than humans do.

Palau has been a member of IWC since 2002 and is one of the pro-whaling nations supporting Japan’s research program.

Palau sent its representative there to make their stand on the matter known. The policy shift however is criticized by several sectors which said that Palau is still voting with Japan to resume commercial whaling. Japan is the largest donor to Palau after the United States.

Toribiong recently declared Palau a shark sanctuary at the U.N. General Assembly. He said the country also needs to protect other marine species in Palau.

The moratorium on commercial whaling has been in place since 1986. Japan, however, continues to hunt about 1,000 whales a year for research purposes.

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