The organisation that looks after the world’s whales, has begun its annual meeting in Madeira.
The crunch issue – the number of animals allowed to be caught each year, which both whaling nations and conservationists dispute.
The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, but some countries still have active fleets. Environmentalists want the IWC to restrict any expansion.
A Greenpeace Whale Campaigner said: “What I hope comes out of this meeting is a future for whales. What I think will come out of this meeting is stalemate. My main concern is that the delegates are going to sit on their hands, content to talk for another year whilst whales continue to die.”
Japan officially observes the commercial ban but catches about 900 whales a year for what it calls research. Opponents say much of the meat ends up on the dinner table.
Environmentalists claim demand for whale meat is in decline, and say the fleets would be financially better-off taking tourists on whale-watching tours.