WASHINGTON, June 6 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama is breaking a campaign promise as his administration backs an effort to lift a 24-year ban on commercial whaling, critics say.
Environmentalists, already unhappy with the administration's allegedly lackluster response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, say the president is going back on his campaign pledge to end the slaughter of whales, FOX News reported Sunday.
The administration is leading a push within the International Whaling Commission to lift the ban on whaling against Japan, Norway and Iceland, the three countries in the commission still hunting whales, FOX News said.
The White House says a new agreement will save whales by keeping the three countries from exploiting loopholes in the current moratorium, but environmentalists say they aren't buying it.
"That moratorium on commercial whaling was the greatest conservation victory of the 20th century," Patrick Ramage of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said.
"And in 2010 to be waving the white flag or bowing to the stubbornness of the last three countries engaged in the practice is a mind-numbingly dumb idea," he said.
Australia has announced it will take Japan to the International Court of Justice to try to end its "scientific whaling" program in southern oceans, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.