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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

25 September 2002

Australia Achieves Better Protection For Whales

The Australian Government has been successful overnight in its bid to have 6 great whale species listed under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), at the 7th Conference of Parties held in Bonn, Germany.

"I am proud to announce that Australia has successfully listed the Antartic Minke, Bryde's, Fin, Pigmy Southern Right, Sei, and Sperm whales together with the Great White Shark and the Orca.

"Listing of these species onto the CMS will ensure additional global protection and assist in their conservation and recovery.

"I announced at the International Whaling Commission meeting in May this year that Australia would propose for listing six great whale species under the CMS, and I would like to thank the CMS Conference of the Parties for supporting our efforts.

"Australia has long advocated global cooperation on the protection of whale species and is actively seeking a permanent global ban on commercial whaling, primarily through the International Whaling Commission."

At the Commission earlier this year, Australia achieved its most successful vote yet for establishing a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary. However, despite gaining a majority of the vote, support has not yet reached the three quarters majority required to establish the sanctuary.

While the International Whaling Commission addresses the issues surrounding whale hunting, the CMS uniquely targets actions related to the migrations of great whales. Importantly, the CMS provides an opportunity to increase the participation of smaller or developing nations in actions to protect migratory species.

The successful listing of these marine species, gives Australia and our South Pacific neighbours an opportunity to establish a regional Memorandum of Understanding on the conservation and management of all CMS-listed marine mammals to be found at various times during their migrations in the South Pacific region.

"Actions we could take include developing whale watching guidelines, establishing a regional whale protection zone, developing non-lethal research programs as well as by-catch mitigation strategies," Dr Kemp added.

"Such a Memorandum of Understanding would be the first South Pacific regional initiative to specifically address migratory mammals under the CMS. This memorandum would identify actions to restore the conservation status of all marine mammals species found in the South Pacific Ocean, including whales, small cetaceans and dugongs."

At the national level, all whales, dolphins, porpoises and the Great White Shark are protected in Australian waters under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia