A proposal to create a whale sanctuary in the southern Atlantic Ocean has been defeated at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) conference in Florianopolis, Brazil.

The required the support of three quarters of the members to pass; 39 supporters rallied, but pro-whaling nations led by Japan and Russia managed to gather 25 votes.  And those the numbers just weren't there.

Japan is also trying to get the global conference to overturn the international ban on whale hunting.  Tokyo's proposal claims, "Science is clear: there are certain species of whales whose population is healthy enough to be harvested sustainably," and, "Japan proposes to establish a committee dedicated to sustainable whaling (including commercial whaling and aboriginal subsistence whaling)."

Even though Japan signed on to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in 1951, it sends a fleet out to kill whales almost every year under the guise of scientific research.  The IWC allows Japan a quota of 333 animals.  The meat from the killed whales is sold on the domestic market, although there are fewer and fewer Japanese who would eat whale meat.  Of those who do, a 2014 poll found few people eat it regularly; there is little demand from tourists.

It seems unlikely that Japan will get enough support for its idea.  The US and Australia also agree the ban is necessary for conservation.

"The Australian people have clearly made a decision that they don’t believe that whaling is something that we should be undertaking in the 21st century," said Anne Ruston, Australia's assistant minister for international development and the Pacific.  "The argument that we put forward from Australia is that we don't want to see any whales killed, whether they're killed because (of) commercial whaling or whether it's so-called scientific whaling."

The International Whaling Commission runs through Friday.