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China Should Take Firm Stand Against Whaling: Expert

China, as a non-whaling country, should say no to international whaling so as to prevent further depletion of whale species along China's coastline, a scholar said Tuesday in a lecture held in the prestigious Peking University.


Referring to this year's annual conference held in Ulsan, the Republic of Korea, from May 27 to June 24, on which the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will vote on several resolutions including whether Japan could expand its whaling quota, Zhu Qian, deputy director of Marine biotechnology center in east China's Shandong University, said, "in the waters along China's 1,800 kilometers' coastline, whaling by Japan has directly and severely depleted whale species."


As whales are migratory marine mammals that don't belong to any country, many species swim thousands of miles between their breeding and feeding areas, which makes them wildlife belonging to all nationals in the world, said Zhu.


"China should take a proactive stand for the protection of whales in this year's IWC conference," Zhu said of the Chinese delegation, comprising officials from bureau of fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture, to the IWC conference.


IWC now has 61 member countries including China, which banned commercial whaling in 1986. Commission regulations allow limited hunting in Japan and other countries in the name of scientific research.


Sources with International Foundation of Animal Welfare (IFAW) show that three countries, Japan, Iceland and Norway, have found ways around the worldwide whaling moratorium and have killed more than 20,000 whales. Roughly 1,400 more will die by the end of this year.


However, Yoshimasa Hayashi, a member of Japan's House of Councilors, said at a previous occasion in May that at least half of the commission's members were expected to back Japan to double its annual quota and expand the number of species permitted for hunting.


His remark has triggered a criticism from many countries, such as Australia, Britain, the United States and New Zealand.


A complete lifting of the ban is unlikely since that would require the approval of three-fourths of the members.


"As China is playing an increasingly important role in the region and around the world economically and politically, it should also take a leadership role in protecting the marine wildlife," said Grace Ge Gabriel, an official with IFAW.


"China should be able to tell Japan that its aggressive stand to expand the commercial exploitation of the world's whales, can not be tolerated any longer," she said.


(Xinhua News Agency June 15, 2005)

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