A bid to create a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic Ocean was defeated by pro-whaling nations at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) conference in Florianopolis, Brazil on Tuesday.
The conservation effort aimed to increase the whale stock and curb the ‘severe exploitation’ by foreign whaling fleets in the South Atlantic, according to the proposal submitted to the IWC.
The sanctuary would also facilitate ‘non-lethal and non-extractive’ scientific research.
The idea for a protected sanctuary was first introduced by Brazil two decades ago and has yet to gain enough support for implementation. The bid was co-sponsored by Argentina, Gabon and South Africa. Tuesday’s vote failed to reach a required three-quarters majority with 39 nations voting in favor, 25 against and three abstentions.
Pro-whaling nations such as Japan, Norway and Russia voted against the proposal.
“We want to continue in this battle, this struggle, because we understand that we are on the right track,” Brazilian Environment Minister Edson Duarte said after the vote.
The defeat was strongly condemned by international conservation groups and animal rights activists.
“It’s a bitter disappointment that – in Brazil of all places – the proposal for a South Atlantic whale sanctuary has once again been defeated by Japan and its allies,” Grettel Delgadillo, Deputy Director of Humane Society International, said in a statement.
“It’s a common-sense proposal directly informed by the fact that cetacean species and populations are still recovering from decades of merciless commercial whaling in the twentieth century.”