Japan is Bribing Poor Nations for Their Votes to Lift Ban on Commercial Whale-Killing:
Australia accused Japan and other pro-whaling nations Thursday of recruiting poor countries to back their push for a resumption of commercial whaling at an international conference next month.
Environment Minister Ian Campbell said he fears pro-whaling nations could get the numbers to push through their commercial goal at the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in the Caribbean starting June 16.
Campbell was at UN headquarters in New York this week for talks with allies about trying to block an IWC vote in favor of a return to commercial whaling.
"We've met with nations who are on our side, going through potential swinging votes and looking at what we can do to try and get that last couple of votes we need on the side of whale conservation," Campbell told ABC radio.
"The news from those countries is that our worst fears about potential recruitment of pro-whaling nations is going on," he said.
"We won't probably know how many nations have been recruited by the whalers until the eve of the conference," he said.
Opponents of commercial whaling have accused Japan and other pro-whaling nations of using financial aid as a lever to convince poor developing nations, particularly small island states in the Pacific and Caribbean, to back them at the 66-member IWC.
At the previous IWC meeting last June in South Korea, pro-conservation nations led by Australia only narrowly defeated a Japanese-backed proposal to end a 20-year-old moratorium on commercial whaling.
Campbell said he expected another "tough" battle this year, although the recruiting success of the pro-whaling nations will likely only be known on the eve of the IWC meeting, which will take place on the island of St Kitts.
"Literally the night before I left Perth to fly to Korea for the whaling commission meeting last year, three nations were added to the roll," he said.
"You have to work on the basis that that may occur again, and of course speculation about the tactics that are used to recruit people is only just that, speculation."
Campbell said he expected this year's vote to be "as tight as ever".
"If there are last-minute additions to the roll from the whaling nations, that will make it particularly difficult," he said.
"It's an incredibly important environmental and conservation issue for humanity, it's not something that's an easy fight, but it's something that we'll keep fighting till we win."
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