Giant inflatable whale beaches on Rome's Spanish Steps
A 15-meter-long inflatable whale was beached on Rome's Spanish Steps on Monday in a stunt by Greenpeace to protest a proposed end to the whaling moratorium at a conference that kicked off in Morocco.
The whale remained for a few hours on the steps, one of the Italian capital's best known sights, as activists held banners reading "Whales Are Not For Sale" and "Stop Whaling," before being urged to leave by authorities.
The International Whaling Commission started a key meeting on Monday in Agadir, Morocco, to debate catch quotas which could replace a moratorium on hunting.
"We are one step away from the re-opening of commercial whaling that would compromise the moratorium in place for the last 24 years," said environmental organisation Greenpeace in a press release.
"With the promise of money and through methodical corruption, whaling countries are seeking to reach a majority" at the conference in order to end the moratorium, Greenpeace said.
Despite a 1986 moratorium on the commercial hunting of whales, Japan, Norway and Iceland have exploited a loophole in the ban and still kill the animals, more than 1,500 in the 2008-2009 season alone.
"We appreciate Italy's position that is strongly opposed to whale hunting, but that is no enough to save them," said Giorgia Monti, a Greenpeace campaigner.
© 2010 AFP