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

18 October 2006

Australia condemns Iceland’s decision to kill whales

Iceland’s decision to resume commercial whaling will increase the devastating human impact on the world’s whale populations and damage their standing internationally, Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said today.

“Iceland’s decision to authorise an annual hunt of 30 minke and nine fin whales (an internationally recognised endangered species) is completely reprehensible,” Senator Campbell said.

Fin whales are listed under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as ‘endangered’. This means that they are ‘facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future’.

“It is doubtful whether Iceland will be able to export the meat. This is because the fin whale is listed under Appendix I of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Iceland has a formal exemption under CITES, but almost every other country which is a member of CITES will be banned from importing whale meat. Any country wishing to import whale meat from Iceland would risk international condemnation.

“Even modern killing methods involve an unacceptable level of cruelty. The world no longer needs commercial whaling to meet essential our needs; and this 19th Century practice needs to stop now!

“Iceland must realise that their decision to resume commercial whaling will damage their booming whale watching industry. There are a number of jobs in Iceland which are directly linked to their whale watching industry, which is reported to be Iceland’s fastest growing tourism sector. Last year an estimated 70,000 British visitors went whale watching in Iceland.

“Iceland left the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1992, and later re-joined in 2002 with a ‘reservation’ to the moratorium. They believe that they are therefore not bound by the global ban on commercial whaling.

“When Iceland rejoined the IWC in 2002 Australia and 17 other pro-conservation countries formally registered an objection to Iceland’s reservation. Australia considers Iceland’s reservation is incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention.

“Since Iceland re-joined the IWC they have been conducting ‘scientific whaling’, which is really thinly veiled commercial whaling, just as Japan does.

“Iceland’s decision is an international disgrace and the Australian Government will continue to work closely with pro-conservation allies towards a permanent ban on this archaic practice,” Senator Campbell said.

Media Contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

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