Japan was among the countries that rejected a plan to create a safe haven for whales in the South Atlantic, insisting that the move is unnecessary.
Japan, Norway, China, Russia and Iceland were the main countries that opposed the move despite the fact that little whaling takes place in the area. The voting took place on Monday at the International Whaling Commission.
The protected zone would have spanned the waters between South America and Africa south of the equator. It would have touched the edges of another sanctuary, that already exists in the Antarctic.
The sanctuary would have been the third created by the commission since its founding. Activists argued that the proposed haven, which is being discussed since 1999, would have assured a seamless safe zone for migrating whales.
“We are extremely disappointed that the whaling bloc has harpooned the sanctuary proposal despite support of a clear majority,” said Patrick Ramage, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Global Whale Program. He blamed “opposition led by Japan — a country not even in this region.”
Japan said that creating a new sanctuary when a global moratorium on commercial whaling already exists was like “building a roof on top of a roof.”