FRIGATE BAY, St. Kitts and Nevis — Japan suffered a resounding defeat on Friday at the International Whaling Commission, calming fears among conservationists that might finally win enough support in the world body to start attacking a ban on whaling. The commission voted against two proposals by Japan, one for secret ballots that it said would allow Caribbean and Pacific nations to back its pro-whaling stance without fear of reprisal, and another to prevent the IWC from discussing the fate of dolphins and porpoises as well as whales. Anti-whaling countries led by Australia, Britain, New Zealand and South Africa, and environmental groups, breathed a sigh of relief that their darkest fears — of a whaling body dominated by pro-whaling Japan — had not come about. ‘So far we have managed to dodge the harpoon,’ said Joth Singh, director of wildlife and habitat protection for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, at the IWC’s June 16-20 meeting in the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis. Japan has sought for years to overturn the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling and had been expected to be closer than ever this year to securing a majority in the IWC. […]

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