TOKYO: Japan cautiously welcomed an International Whaling Commission proposal that would effectively allow commercial whaling for the first time in 25 years, though under strict quotas that the commission argues will reduce the global catch.
The proposal, to be debated at the IWC's meeting in June, seeks a compromise by allowing whaling nations to hunt without specifying commercial or otherwise - but in lower numbers.
Japan's self-imposed annual quota of 935 Antarctic minke whales would be lowered to 400 over the next five years, then reduced to 200 for the next five years. The country's take of 320 sei and minke whales in coastal waters would be cut to 210.
The newest proposal would allow 69 bowhead whales, 145 gray whales, 14 humpbacks and 109 fin whales to be hunted each year around the world.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the IWC's proposal did not deliver what New Zealand wanted - that it must be significantly better than the status quo and meet the country's commitment to end whaling in the southern ocean.
"The proposal to include [endangered] fin whales in the southern ocean is inflammatory," he said. "New Zealanders will not accept this."