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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

23 September 2002

Australia Seeks International Protection for Six Whale Species


This week Australia will learn whether its bid to gain further international protection for six endangered whale species has met with success.

The Conference of Parties for the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) is currently meeting in Bonn, Germany and will decide tomorrow night, Australian time, whether to accept Australia's nomination of six great whales onto the Convention.

Those species are: the Antarctic Minke, Bryde's (pronounced brew-dah's), Fin, Pygmy Southern Right, Sei and Sperm whales.

Just last week, the Scientific Council for the CMS endorsed Australia's bid to list these species under the Convention and recommended that it be accepted by the Conference of the Parties.

I urge the other 80 member nations to vote in favour of this motion tomorrow night and take this important step towards proper global protection of these great whales.

Listing under the CMS would give Australia and other nations in the South Pacific an avenue to establish a regional whale protection zone in the South Pacific and undertake other conservation actions. These actions could involve developing and implementing whale watching guidelines, developing non-lethal research programs and developing and implementing by-catch mitigation strategies.

The Howard Government is seeking a global ban on commercial whaling and is working at the domestic, regional and international levels to help promote the recovery of this endangered species.

Our primary focus is the International Whaling Commission (IWC), where earlier this year Australia achieved its most successful vote yet for establishing a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary (24 in favour, 16 against and 5 abstentions).

However, despite gaining a majority of the vote, support has not yet reached the three-quarters majority required by the IWC to establish the sanctuary.

We will be taking our nomination again to Berlin for next year's IWC meeting.

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

Commonwealth of Australia