South Korea earned praises this time as it hinted the likelihood of backing down from its earlier announced plan of resuming whale hunting in pursuit of scientific research.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, South Korea's Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries clarified that its whaling activities will greatly depend on "international regulations and procedures and will fully respect the recommendations of the IWC's Scientific Committee."
The IWC or International Whaling Commission monitors the global whaling industry to achieve proper conservation of existing stock of the sea mammal.
In a forum hosted by the group in Panama City last week, Seoul made known its intents to resume whaling for scientific ends, immediately drawing criticisms from activists and governments around the world, Australia including.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard vowed her government will pursue diplomatic clarification on the matter, which is in line with Canberra's fierce opposition of whaling activities that pitted the government against Japan.
But in a quick turnaround following the backlash last week, ministry chief Kang Joon-seok explained "if there is a way to achieve the goal of such a scientific research without catching whales, the country may consider such alternative means."
Mr Kang, however, insisted that Seoul maintains its stand that the whale population within its area of jurisdiction must be reduced in order to protect the country's fish stocks.
And in the event that whales would be hunted in the future "the meat from scientific whaling will not find its way to the market," a separate statement from the South Korean government assured the international community.
Greenpeace hailed Seoul's' backtrack as an encouraging development for the threatened gentle sea giant following the country's apparent resolve last week to resume whaling amidst protests voiced out by nations and activist groups.
"We absolutely welcome the news that South Korea is reconsidering its appalling announcement of intentions to begin so-called scientific whaling," Greenpeace representative Nathaniel Pelle said in a statement.
Also, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said today that Australia will definitely be happy if South Korea will abandon its whaling plans, which experts said the country would conduct as early as next year in the seas that the country shares with Japan with minke whales as possible targets.
"If South Korea has made this decision to revoke the suggestion of some law officials, it would be a very welcome thing," Senator Carr told ABC on Monday.
Still, Canberra will maintain its vigilance on the matter as the foreign minister added that he will raise the issue at the ongoing East Asia Summit in Cambodia.
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