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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp

16 June 2003

Scientists Condemn "Scientific" Whaling

Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, overnight welcomed growing opposition to 'scientific' whaling as leading whale researchers publicly expressed their concerns about the practice.

"The newly released report of the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission supports Australia's position that so-called research, that involves killing hundreds of whales, does not have the support of the scientific community," Dr Kemp said.

At this year's meeting of the Scientific Committee, 40 scientists took the extraordinary measure of formally registering their concerns about scientific whaling permits. Their statement, that so-called scientific whaling amounts to an abuse of IWC provisions for research, was made public today during the first day of the 55th meeting of the International Whaling Commission.

"Australia endorses these concerns. We agree that Iceland's proposal to join Japan in permitting scientific whaling is technically deficient and unwarranted. It has no credible research framework, it is premised on a hollow argument about how many fish whales eat, and the sort of questions it claims to be addressing could be answered without killing whales," Dr Kemp said.

The scientists' statement reads in part:

Iceland is in practice proposing a cull of whales …

Member governments that promote poorly conceived research whaling programmes place their scientists in the untenable position of having to defend these proposals in order to support the agendas of their governments. In turn, this causes unnecessary conflict between Scientific Committee members … and undermines the basis by which the IWC manages stocks of whales.

"The Scientific Committee report contains compelling criticisms of existing and proposed scientific whaling. This is proof that scientific whaling is nothing less than commercial whaling," Dr Kemp said.

Japan's ongoing lethal 'research' whaling in the Antarctic and the North Pacific received strong criticism in the report, while particular concerns were expressed about Iceland's new proposal to take 250 whales per year (including 150 members of two endangered species - fin whales and sei whales).

"I hope that this will convince the Government of Iceland to shelve its plans to expand the number of whales taken for commercial profit under the guise of science," Dr Kemp said. "It should also send a clear message to Japan that the world's scientific community doesn't accept so-called scientific whaling."

Australia strongly opposes so-called 'scientific whaling' and is a world leader in developing scientifically robust non-lethal research methodologies.

Dr Kemp is attending the 55th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Berlin, Germany, which meets from 16 to 19 June 2003.

Commonwealth of Australia