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Hunting humpbacks: new plans attacked by environmentalists

by Staff Writers
Lisbon (AFP) June 16, 2009
Plans to resume the hunting of humpback whales, protected by a moratorium introduced more than 40 years ago, came under fire from environmentalists Tuesday, ahead of a key meeting.

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) said Greenland, a semi-autonomous Danish territory, intends to ask a summit on Monday to grant it permission to hunt a quota of 50 humpbacks over five years.

"Denmark is lobbying intensely, with the support of Sweden, to build a European consensus in favour of Greenland's proposal," WDCS spokesman Nicolas Entrup said in a statement issued in Lisbon.

"The WDCS urges member states and the Czech presidency (of the European Union) not to put at risk the EU's reputation for commitment to the conservation of the world's whales."

The humpback was a major target of hunters and its population fell dramatically before a moratorium was introduced in 1966.

Greenland will make its request at the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which kicks off on Monday on the Portuguese island of Madeira, the WDCS said.

There are 85 countries in the IWC, which has for some years been trying to come to a new compromise on whale hunting and conservation.

Iceland and Norway are the only two countries in the world that authorise commercial whaling.

Japan officially hunts whales for scientific purposes, which are contested by opponents, and the whale meat is sold for consumption.

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South Africa officials shot dead some 35 whales in a group of 55 stranded on a beach in the south of the country after efforts to save them failed, scientists said Saturday. The first whales washed up at 7:30 am (0530 GMT) on a beach off the Cape of Good Hope, at the southern tip of the country. Officials from the South African National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) helped by dozens of ... read more

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