Whaling United States
Delegates will be discussing whaling in Slovenia.Reuters

Japan's controversial whaling operation is set to be the focus of the 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Slovenia.

The meeting will be attended by delegates from across the world who will discuss three proposed amendments to current regulations, as well as state their positions on the issue of whaling.

Chaired by Jeannine Compton-Antoine, IWC commissioner for St Lucia, this year's event will see pro-whaling and anti-whaling nations gather to discuss issues.

The IWC was set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling signed in 1946. It is the global body in charge of the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.

In 1986, the commission introduced zero catch limits for commercial whaling – a provision still in place today.

Writing for the Guardian, Howard C Rosenbaum, director of the Ocean Giants programme for the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the IWC created a sanctuary for whales in the Southern Ocean in 1994, where whaling would be banned to encourage numbers to increase.

However, Japan continued to hunt the whales under the guise of scientific research. Five months ago, the nation was ordered to stop hunting because of the limited scientific output it generated.

Whaling Japan Ban Meat
Workers butcher a Baird's Beaked whale at Wada port in Minamiboso, south east of TokyoReuters

Following the judgement by the International Court of Justice, Japan announced it will resume whaling a year from now following the development of a revised scientific research programme.

Kitty Block, vice-president of Humane Society International, said a strong stance must be taken to protect whales. "It is imperative that the IWC takes firm and decisive action to implement the ICJ judgment," she said. "Japan's so-called scientific whaling has been discredited by the highest court in the world, and whales in Antarctica have secured some much-needed protection.

"Countries like Japan, Iceland and Norway must cease undermining, and in Japan's case violating, the whaling moratorium, by killing whales for commercial gain. We're looking to the IWC and all whale-friendly nations to hold a firm line."

Aimee Leslie, head of the WWF's delegation at the meeting, said:"The ICJ examined Japan's whaling programme and determined that it was not for the purposes of scientific research and, therefore, illegal under international law.

"Now it is up to the International Whaling Commission to take action on this issue before Japan resumes whaling next year. Governments have the unique opportunity this week to change the status quo on scientific whaling once and for all.

"Modern research techniques make killing whales in the name of science obsolete. The whaling commission is long overdue to adopt reforms that will protect whales from so-called scientific hunts, which are, in reality, a cover for the harvesting of whale meat.

"We urge the commission to adopt the criteria described in the ICJ judgment in order to put an end to commercial hunts that are disguised as scientific research."