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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp
17 June 2003
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today welcomed the historic decision of the International Whaling Commission to adopt the Berlin Initiative on Strengthening the Conservation Agenda of the IWC.
"The Berlin Initiative marks a milestone in the evolution of the International Whaling Commission," Dr Kemp told the IWC in his speech on the Initiative.
"The Initiative recognises that the primary objective of the IWC is to conserve whale populations for the benefit of all humankind and for future generations," Dr Kemp said after the successful vote.
"The effect of this decision is the establishment of a new Conservation Committee, which will help the IWC clarify, develop and meet the conservation objective of its 1946 Convention. "A generation ago, Australia made the transition from a whaling nation to one which values the protection and conservation of the world's largest marine mammals.
"Today, the IWC took an important step in its evolution - from a Whalers' Club to a family of nations committed to the preservation of these most magnificent creatures of the sea."
Australia was one of 20 sponsors of the proposal, adopted overnight at the 55th annual meeting of the IWC in Berlin, Germany. The Berlin Initiative passed by a margin of 25:20.
"I look forward to the Conservation Committee addressing issues including the protection of habitat and the promotion of whale sanctuaries," Dr Kemp said.
"To advance the conservation agenda, this new Committee will need all members to contribute to meet this ambitious objective.
"I call on the IWC also to ensure that the Conservation Committee is supported by - and promotes - good science, such as the non-lethal techniques for studying whales that Australian scientists use.
"The Berlin Initiative is the best sign in many years that the IWC is moving into the 21st Century. I hope that those nations of the world community that are reluctant to join a Commission of whalers will be willing to join and strengthen a Commission with whale conservation at its heart."
The IWC is meeting for the 55th time from 16 to 19 June 2003 in Berlin, Germany.