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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
24 March 2002
The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, says Australia is not convinced by a recent Japanese Government poll that claims to show that Japanese people support the resumption of commercial whaling.
"This survey, reported in the Japanese media, seems to have been designed not so much to gauge public opinion as to advertise the Japanese Government's policy," Dr Kemp said.
Dr Kemp was commenting on a poll of 3453 people, purporting to show that 75 per cent of respondents support, under certain conditions, a resumption of limited whaling.
"Before respondents were asked whether they supported the Japanese "scientific" whaling program, they were told that Japanese fish stocks were declining and that whales and dolphins eat fish.
"Another question asked respondents whether they were aware that people in the West objected to whaling because they thought whales were intelligent and sacred.
"While there is an ethical dimension to our policy, Australia's objection to whaling is also soundly based on science.
"As the May 2002 meeting of the International Whaling Commission approaches, we have seen a series of announcements from whaling nations, suggesting an aggressive push for a resumption of commercial whale hunting.
"Pro-whaling nations such as Japan are attempting to build a case to lift the moratorium on commercial whaling, which has been in effect since 1986. However the results of this latest survey do nothing to dissuade me of the ongoing need for the moratorium.
"Great whales were drastically over-exploited until late last century and it will take generations for them to recover. The moratorium is their best chance of long-term survival."
Japanese public opinion on whaling has been surveyed on other occasions over recent years, with very different results. One poll, commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Greenpeace and conducted in March 2000 by the independent Nippon Research Centre and Britain's MORI research company, found that only 11 per cent of the Japanese public supported whaling outright.
Dr Kemp said that the Australian Government was working closely with other like-minded countries and NGO's to fight for the increased protection for whales at the next International Whaling Commission meeting to be held in Shimonoseki, Japan despite these latest attempts by Japan to sway public opinion.
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400