Talks on replacing a moratorium on commercial whaling with a controlled cull have broken down and are to be suspended for a year.
For nearly two decades, whaling has been all but banned expect for certain circumstances including scientific purposes, but several countries have flouted the restrictions and have caught whales anyway.
A new compromise on the table at the talks in Morocco was proposing to lift the moratorium for ten years but to impose international supervision and controls on limited catches.
“As I have said many times before, because the distance between pro-whaling and anti-whaling nations is too big, many of those who are against whaling cannot accept anything but zero or phasing down to zero within a very short time.” said Norway’s representative.
Last year, 1,500 whales where caught by the main whaling nations. Environmentalists fear this number will continue to go unchecked.
Greenpeace campaigner Sarah Duthie was dismayed.
“The status quo allows Japan, Iceland and Norway to continue its slaughter of thousands of whales each year with impunity,” she said.
Hunting brought some species such as the blue, the humpback and the white whale close to extinction back in the 1980s and numbers are only now beginning to recover.