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

1 November 2006

Anti-whaling nations to unite against Iceland


Australia will join with its anti-whaling allies to express its strong opposition to Iceland’s decision to resume commercial whaling.

Australia will join forces with 26 other countries to make a formal protest - called a ‘demarche’ - to Iceland in Reyjavik at 10am today.

Senator Campbell said the message calls upon Iceland to respect the internationally agreed moratorium on whaling and halt its commercial whaling operations.

“Iceland has shown a flagrant disregard for international obligations by announcing its intention to kill 30 minke and nine fin whales for commercial purposes,” Senator Campbell said.

“In addition to Iceland’s plans to resume commercial whaling, including the endangered fin species, Iceland also catches minke whales under the guise of scientific research.

“The Australian Government strongly opposes Iceland’s so-called “scientific whaling” programme.

“Deliberately targeting an endangered species simply does not make sense. To resume hunting of fin whales now will have a devastating impact on an already struggling population that has still not recovered from the plundering days prior to the moratorium.”

Iceland re-joined the IWC in 2002 with a ‘reservation’ to the moratorium; that under no circumstances would commercial whaling resume without a sound scientific basis, and an effective management and enforcement scheme. At the time Australia and 17 other pro-conservation countries formally registered an objection to Iceland’s reservation.

“For Iceland to turn its back on the IWC so easily shows a blatant disrespect for international obligations.

“We are urging the Icelandic government to reconsider its position and reverse this unjustified, inexplicable and unnecessary decision and to abandon its current operations,” Senator Campbell said.

Note to the media: A dmarche is a formal diplomatic representation of one government’s official position, views, or wishes on a given subject to an appropriate official in another government or international organization. Demarches seek to persuade, inform, or gather information from a foreign government.

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902


Aide-memoire

Joint demarche by Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, The Czech Republic, The European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, The Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, The United Kingdom, and The United States of America

We, the Governments of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, The Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, The Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, The United Kingdom and The United States of America, together with The European Commission are extremely disappointed that the Icelandic Government has decided to resume commercial whaling in Icelandic waters, in spite of the internationally agreed moratorium.

Furthermore, we are very concerned that Iceland is considering the taking of nine fin whales, which have been classified as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and are listed under CITES Appendix I, together with thirty common minke whales. We do not agree with this proposed action, adding as it does to the current catches of common minke whales under the research plan, which Iceland has been implementing since 2003.

At the 22nd Animals Committee meeting of CITES - the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora - which took place in Peru, only last July, Iceland's proposed inclusion of the central stock of North Atlantic fin whales in the periodic review was agreed. Nevertheless, the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries has now set its own catch limits, without awaiting the outcome of this review.

Similarly, Iceland has set its quota using criteria that have not been presented to or reviewed and approved by the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) Scientific Committee. It deeply concerns us that the Icelandic Government awards itself a quota that has not been approved according to the applicable international provisions, before any possible effects on whale populations have been properly assessed and peer reviewed by those bodies recognised as competent to manage whale resources.

We would wish to point to the significant economic and social benefits which accrue to Iceland arising from its growing whale-watching industry and express the view that the decision to commence commercial whaling could seriously undermine those benefits. We are of the opinion that the decision to commence commercial whaling sends a wrong signal with regard to Iceland's growing whale watching industry.

We call upon Iceland to respect the moratorium and halt its commercial whaling operations. We believe that commercial whaling quotas determined and prosecuted in the absence of any agreed management system undermines the proper functioning of the IWC.

We repeat our countries' opposition to this operation and urge the Government of Iceland to reconsider its position and reverse this unnecessary decision, and to abandon its current operations. We remind Iceland that 19 countries1 registered a formal objection with the United States Government (as the depository country for the instrument of adherence to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling) to Iceland's Reservation on commercial whaling when they rejoined the IWC in 2002.

1 November 2006

1Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America

Commonwealth of Australia