The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has proposed a new whale sanctuary in the southern Atlantic ocean, the third such haven in the world's oceans.
Japan, Iceland and a number of other Caribbean and African nations have refused to vote on the proposal, with Tokyo suggesting that any future sanctuaries should be respected consensually, and should not be put to a vote.
The area of the south Atlantic ocean the IWC is trying to protect is part of the whales' traditional feeding and breeding grounds - where Japan continues its 'scientific fishing'.
The IWC requires a three quarters majority vote to create a new sanctuary and Monday's vote is seen as a test of the IWC itself and of its future direction.
Al Jazeera's Tarek Bazley reports.