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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
7 May 2002
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, has welcomed an announcement by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Mekere Morauta, that Papua New Guinea intended to designate its entire Exclusive Economic Zone as a whale sanctuary.
"The Australian Government welcomes Prime Minister Morautu's move to protect whales from commercial whaling in Papua New Guinea waters," Dr Kemp said.
"We encourage other South Pacific Island States to follow Papua New Guinea's example and declare their waters as whale sanctuaries.
"To date a number of South Pacific Island States, including the Cook Islands and Tonga, have declared their waters as whale sanctuaries.
"It is time the pro-whaling bloc of the International Whaling Commission recognised the level of support in the South Pacific for the establishment of the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary to protect vulnerable species of whales in their breeding areas and their migratory routes," Dr Kemp said.
Australia and New Zealand are co-sponsoring a proposal at the 54th meeting of the International Whaling Commission to declare the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.
The South Pacific Whale Sanctuary would stretch south from the equator to meet the boundary of the existing Southern Ocean Sanctuary, and from the edge of the Indian Ocean Sanctuary (mid-way along Australia's southern coastline) roughly 7,000 km east to the Pitcairn Islands.
Australia declared its waters as a whale sanctuary under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
"The Australian Government will continue to seek increased protection for whales when the International Whaling Commission meets in Shimonoseki, Japan in two weeks time," Dr Kemp said.
To view the joint submission by Australia and New Zealand, A South Pacific Whale Sanctuary, please visit the International Whaling Commission web site: http://www.iwcoffice.org/2002_meeting.htm
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400