Japan was presented on Tuesday with a compromise package for its whaling operations by the International Whaling Commission, amid outcry from the Greens Party and WWF-Australia.
Two proposals had been put forward, the first included phasing out Japan's Southern Ocean operations in exchange for allowing an unspecified catch of minke whales in Japan's coastal waters.
The second proposal would allow Southern Ocean whaling operations to continue if Japan adhered to annual limits set by the IWC's Scientific Committee.
The announcement came after it was revealed that Japan, the US, Sweden, Brazil, NZ and Australia had conducted a closed-door meeting, with a secret deal proposed to let Japan kill more whales in the North Pacific while reducing the kill in the Southern Ocean.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewart said Australians are strongly against all whaling - whether in Albany, Antarctica or the Sea of Japan - and that it should be banned.
"The IWC seems to be more about the politics of appeasement rather than the protection of whales," she said. "Australia should not be supporting this deal - one that ultimately allows Japan to continue hunting and slaughtering whales, regardless of where it occurs."
The package made no mention of other whaling nations, Iceland and Norway, which continue to hunt whales, despite the IWC's commercial moratorium.
Rob Nicoll, WWF-Australia's Antarctica and Southern Oceans Initiative Manager, expressed concern that the package dealt only with one whaling nation and ignored the rest.
"The world's whales will not be saved until all governments commit to their conservation together. It is time to bring the IWC into the 21st century as a whale conservation organisation," he said.
- Sarah Sharples