Whaling talks suspended as deadlock continues
June 21st Updated
Within an hour of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) opening in Morocco, official talks were suspended for two days.
Representatives from more than 80 nations had gathered for the annual IWC meeting, set to be the most controversial in years.
But the deputy chair of the IWC has called for private talks to break the deadlock.
Australia is concerned by the development and says it "shuts down the official process which has been underway for two years".
The sticking point remains over a proposal to overturn a 24-year ban on commercial whaling.
Under the IWC draft proposal, which Australia is opposing, Japan would be allowed to catch 120 whales a year in its coastal waters.
Mick McIntyre from Whales Alive says the deal has split the anti-whaling nations.
"This is a deal that's being supported by what we once called our allies," he said.
"Pro-conservation countries like the US and New Zealand - how did this happen?"
Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett says the Australian Government cannot accept the compromise.
"Australia must be successful in opposing this shabby deal," he said.
"If such a deal were to go through, Australians would need to resign themselves to watching the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean year after year over the next decade."