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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

20 May 2005

Whale protection: Australia leads the way


The Australian Government is taking strong action to enforce whale protection with the release today of a comprehensive strategy to preserve Australia's five threatened whale species.

The recovery plans outline key strategies for the protection of five of Australia's great whales - the humpback, southern right, blue, fin and sei whales - and aim to recover their population levels back to the levels that existed prior to the 19th century when they were hunted extensively throughout the world's oceans.

The plans:

The recovery plans have involved extensive consultation with the States and Territories, key researchers, non-government organisations and industry.

"These whale species were decimated by commercial whaling during much of the last century and Australia is strongly committed to their long-term recovery and protection," Senator Campbell said.

Australia has a number of long-standing programs to monitor populations of these whales and preserve their survival. The release of these whale protection plans will enable all governments and stakeholders to implement and fund activities for the recovery of these whale species.

One of the key threats to these whales identified in the plans is any recommencement of commercial whaling.

"The Australian Government is strongly opposed to any resumption of whaling and will continue fighting for a permanent ban on commercial whaling and an end to whaling for so-called 'scientific' purposes," Senator Campbell said.

"I will represent Australia at the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission in June and will be working to remove any loopholes that allow commercial whaling, under the smokescreen of science or anything else."

Australia was a founding member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), is the host country of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), and a key player in Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM).

Australia is also working with other South Pacific countries to establish a Memorandum of Understanding for the conservation and management of marine mammals in the South Pacific region, under the Convention on Migratory Species.

The recovery plans are available on the website at:
http://www.deh.gov.au/epbc/news.html

Further background information on the biology and population status of each species is available on the Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database accessed at www.deh.gov.au/sprat.

Media contacts:
Renae Stoikos (Minister Campbell's office)   02 6277 7640 or   0418 568 434

The Australian Whale Sanctuary
Commonwealth of Australia