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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

20 September 2002

Australia Leads in International Whale Conservation

Australia's push for permanent protection for six of the world's magnificent whale species came one step closer today with the recommendation for their listing under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today welcomed the recommendation by the CMS Scientific Council to list the Fin, Sei, Sperm Antarctic Minke, Bydre's and Pygmy Right Whales under the Convention, saying it reinforced Australia's broader push to protect migratory whale species.

“The CMS protects migratory species which are endangered or have an unfavourable conservation status and allows for regional agreements aimed at restoring the conservation status of migratory species,” Dr Kemp said.

“I announced at the International Whaling Committee meeting in July this year that Australia would propose for listing of these species under the CMS and I am pleased to see that the Scientific Council has endorsed our position.

“Australia is seeking a permanent global ban on commercial whaling and has long advocated global cooperation on the protection of whale species, particularly through bodies such as the International Whaling Commission and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

“Australia has been an active member of the International Whaling Commission since its creation in 1946. The Commission is the principal international body responsible for whale conservation, management and research.

“Australia has proposed the establishment of a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary under the auspices of the Commission. A South Pacific Whale Sanctuary would complement existing sanctuaries in the Southern and Indian Oceans.

“At the International Whaling Commission meeting in Shimonoseki, Japan, earlier this year, the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary received the highest vote in favour to date. However, the vote was less than the required three-quarters majority vote needed to establish the sanctuary,” Dr Kemp said.

The CMS Conference of Parties will decide Tuesday next week on formally listing these species on the Convention.

“I urge all member countries of the CMS to stand with Australia to protect these magnificent migratory species by agreeing to formally list them on the Convention,” Dr Kemp said.

“If listed, Australia would move to begin consultations with our South Pacific neighbours to identify conservation actions to restore whale populations.

“Such conservation action could include developing and implementing whale watching guidelines, establishing a regional whale protection zone, developing non-lethal research programs and developing and implementing by-catch mitigation strategies.”

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

map showing whale protection in the south pacific

Whale Protection in the South Pacific

Commonwealth of Australia