The world’s whaling watchdog moved on October 27 to curtail Japan’s annual whale hunt, conducted under scientific licence but blasted by critics as a commercial meat haul. A resolution on “improving” the review of deadly research programmes, which Japan alone conducts, split the 70-year-old International Whaling Commission into familiar camps – pro- and anti-whaling. Just two days earlier, the pro camp defeated a bid to create a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic, which had required 75 per cent of IWC member votes. Thursday’s resolution, however, needed a simple majority to pass. It garnered 34 “yes” votes to 17 cast by the camp that includes Japan and commercial whalers Norway and Iceland. Championed by Australia and New Zealand, it will lead to the creation of a permanent “working group” to assist the IWC and its expert scientific committee to assess whaling programmes conducted in the name of science.