US, Britain aim harpoons at Japan's whaling policy

The US and Britain pledged to defy Japanese opposition and force a worldwide ban on commercial whaling at the opening of the annual conference of the International Whaling Commission. The commission provides for conservation of whale stocks to save the world's largest living mammal from extinction.

Japan and the Soviet Union -- both with large deep-sea whaling fleets -- previously blocked attempts to ram through a moratorium on commercial whaling. But the Soviets announced they were ending large-scale commercial whaling, and conservationist nations now hope they will withdraw their opposition in the commission. Japan, however, remained adamant, arguing that whale meat is a vital food source for the country.

The conference agenda also includes creation of possible new whale sanctuaries and fixing of new whaling quotas.The current worldwide quota is about 14,500, fewer than half the figure of six years ago.

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