'Vote-buying' on whaling panel targeted

July 10, 2011 at 4:07 PM

ST. HELIER, Jersey, July 10 (UPI) -- Britain is urging reforms to stop vote-buying on the International Whaling Commission as the panel's annual meeting opens on the isle of Jersey.

The U.K. delegation is proposing that governments pay their membership dues by bank transfer, creating a traceable money trail, the BBC reports. Japan has long been accused of paying off needy developing countries in cash to secure their support for continued whaling.

Japan is the usual focus of whaling opponents' anger, but the March 11 tsunami, which devastated whaling ports, may temper that this year.

"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," said British Environment Minister Richard Benyon. "… But we do disagree on whaling, and we aim to ... have a constructive conversation about it."

It is not certain that Japan will keep up its Antarctic hunt, which has been dogged by harassment by ships of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Another issue will be traditional whaling by indigenous peoples.

Activists charge the United States with "appeasing" Japan so it will not block renewing hunting quotas for Alaska natives.

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