The illegal whaling industry may find itself under a more watchful eye after officials from the International Whaling Commission and more than a dozen countries met in Washington, D.C. this week. According to The New York Times, the new plan may protect up to 5,000 whales from being killed over the next 10 years.

This week’s meetings happened to take place just days after Oregon State University scientists genetically traced meat from endangered species of whale that had been illegally sold at a Santa Monica, California sushi restaurant, says Nature News.

The IWC and other anti-whaling nations are attempting to negotiate an agreement that would limit and ultimately end whale hunting by Japan, Norway, and Iceland. The agreement would permit the three countries to continue hunting whales for the next decade, but be allowed a smaller quota.

The New York Times’ story says that the countries will also agree to stricter monitoring of their operations, such as “the placing of tracking devices and international monitors on all whaling ships and participation in a whale DNA registry to track global trade in whale products.”

This whale DNA registry is the source that allowed Oregon State University scientists to trace the origins of the sushi being sold in California.

Many pro-whale activists say that the agreement would do nothing but allow the internationally sanctioned slaughter of endangered whales to continue for another 10 years. They also say the agreement in no way prevents Japan and other nations from resuming unlimited whaling once the 10-year period is up.

Patrick R. Ramage, global whale program director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told The New York Times, “From our point of view, it’s a whaler’s wish list. It would overturn the ’86 moratorium, eviscerate the South Ocean Whale Sanctuary, subordinate science and I.W.C. precedent to reward countries that have refused to comply by allocating quotas to those three countries.”

But Monica Medina, the second in command at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American delegate o the whaling body, said that Mr. Ramage and other critics were demanding a solution that just isn’t possible.

“We can’t stop it; we can only try to control it,” she told The New York Times.

As Russell McLendon put in Thursday’s Daily Briefing, “anti-whaling activists shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

New international agreement will hopefully reduce illegal whaling
Japan, Norway, and Iceland may soon find their whaling fleets in port more often if a new agreement can be reached and enforced.