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International Whaling Commission extends whaling rights for indigenous Alaskans


Native Alaskans will retain the right to hunt up to 336 bowhead whales between 2013 and 2018.


Ishara S. Kodikara

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has narrowly agreed to extend whaling rights for indigenous populations in the US, Russia and the Caribbean during its annual meeting taking place in Panama.

Associated Press explains that the body needs a 75% majority to approve decision and that members of the body voted 48-10 to set quotas for indigenous whaling in the three countries over the next six years.  Russia's Inuits and other indigenous people will be able to hunt up to 744 grey whales between 2013 and 2018, while native Alaskans will retain the right to hunt up to 336 bowhead whales over the same time period.

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The vote was passed despite questions over whether the bid from St Vincent and the Grenadines qualified under IWC rules, says the BBC. Aboriginal subsistence whaling (ASW) is allowed if indigenous peoples have a "nutritional and cultural need" and there is no danger to whale stocks, it explains. Some delegates maintained that the Bequians, the islands' group that carries out the hunt, are not actually indigenous.

Meanwhile, Australia and India were among a group who forced a separate vote for Denmark to allow indigenous people in Greenland to hunt up to 1,326 whales between 2013 and 2018 to be postponed until later in the week, according to The Australian.  The newspaper says that the US-based Animal Welfare Institute reported that 77% of restaurants in Greenland serve whale, suggesting the island is conducting commercial rather than subsistence whaling.  The IWC adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1983, its website states.

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