Brazil and Argentina seek Atlantic whale sanctuary
16th May 2003
BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil and Argentina said this week they would resubmit a proposal to the International Whaling Commission next month to ban whaling in the Atlantic Ocean south of the equator.
Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva said the two countries would ask the commission at its June meeting to set up a whale sanctuary.
The idea has been rejected twice before by the commission. Despite a moratorium on whaling, introduced in 1986, some countries like Japan and Norway carry out limited whaling. The moratorium was supposed to have been reviewed in 1990 but never was.
"Our negotiators are working hard so that we can win approval for the proposal and obtain the necessary majority," Silva said, referring to the three-quarters majority among commission members required for the establishment of the sanctuary. In 2002, 18 members voted for it and 23 against. There were 4 abstentions.
Supporters of whale sanctuaries argue that such refuges will give dwindling and endangered whale species a chance to rebuild their populations over time. Japan has argued there is no scientific basis for whale sanctuaries.
Silva said Brazil and Argentina's proposal will emphasize using the sanctuary for scientific research and whale watching, which has bolstered tourism in southern Argentina.
There are two whale sanctuaries in the world — in the Indian Ocean and the Antarctic Ocean — where no whaling is permitted.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE