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Joint Media Release
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Acting Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Warren Truss MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr Sharman Stone MP
1 March 2002
Acting Environment Minister Warren Truss and Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Dr Sharman Stone, say Australia will strongly oppose moves by Japan to expand its lethal whale research program.
"Australia has consistently opposed the Japanese 'scientific' whaling program, which has continued despite mounting international criticism. This 'research' is unnecessary and can be inhumane, and its products end up as whale meat for sale in Japanese markets," Mr Truss said.
Mr Truss and Dr Stone said they were dismayed by news suggesting the Japanese Government not only wants to increase its take of minke whales, but that Japan now intends to expand its operations to hunt the endangered sei whale in the North Pacific.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has listed the sei whale as Endangered, because it faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future. The reports suggest that Japan plans to target 50 of this endangered species in the 2002 season. They also suggest that the take of minke whales will increase by 50 to 150.
"We voted with a clear majority in the International Whaling Commission last July for a resolution calling on Japan to end its scientific whaling program. The prospect of it being expanded flies in the face of international opinion," Dr Stone said.
"There is no scientific justification for whales to be killed in order for them to be studied. Australian researchers are developing and using methods to study living whales, including by collecting and analysing faeces. This allows us to study whales' feeding habits throughout their life, rather than drawing conclusions based only on their last meal."
Mr Truss and Dr Stone said Australia would oppose the proposal, and continue to seek an end to all lethal scientific whaling.
"The Australian Government will continue to promote increased protection for whales at the next International Whaling Commission meeting to be held in Shimonoseki, Japan this May," Mr Truss said.
Andrew Hall (Minister Truss) (02) 6277 7520
Simon Frost (Dr Stone) 0419 495 468