British proposals to clean up the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which has been racked by allegations of corruption among its member countries, were accepted by the Commission at its meeting in Jersey last night.
A British resolution aimed at revising the IWC's procedures, some of which are regarded as lax and inadequate and leave it open to accusations of malpractice, was finally adopted by consensus after two days of fierce argument.
The decision, warmly welcomed by anti-whaling campaigners, will mean less secrecy and better governance in the IWC, timely reporting of its decisions, peer-review of its reports, and an end to the situation whereby the 89 IWC member states have been able to pay their annual subscriptions – amounting to thousands of pounds – by cheque or in cash.
It has been alleged in the past that subscriptions of some member states were paid by cash coming from Japan – in return for their votes on Japan's side, as the country sought to overthrow the 1986 moratorium and bring about a return of commercial whaling.
Last year extensive accusations surfaced about Japanese vote-buying among the smaller IWC members, ranging from Antigua to Ivory Coast, with payments allegedly made to individuals as well as countries. The British clean-up proposals were put forward in direct response.
"This is a fantastic achievement that will modernise the IWC, bringing it in to line with other important international bodies, and give it real credibility," Mr Benyon said.
"We believe that the reforms will make the Commission and its decision-making process more transparent, and governments more accountable to their constituencies," Sue Fisher, of The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said.
Patrick Ramage, of The International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: "We are heartened that all IWC member countries took seriously the need for urgent measures to rescue the IWC's credibility."