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Interview with Simon Lauder ABC AM Program Morning Show
17 November 2008
PETER CAVE: The Federal Government is taking a new tack in its fight against whale hunting.
The Environment Minister Peter Garrett has today announced $4-million in funding for scientific research into whales.
Mr Garrett told Simon Lauder it's all part of the Government's campaign to end what Japan calls 'scientific whaling'.
PETER GARRETT: This announcement of additional research into whales, in a non-lethal way, represents a significant step up in our campaign to see an end to so-called scientific whaling by providing a strong scientific base for whale research. Which effectively says that we don't have to kill whales in order to understand them.
SIMON LAUDER: Is there a real scientific need for this research or is it just the next step in the strategy to end Japan's scientific whaling program?
PETER GARRETT: There is no doubt we need to know more about the threats that whales face. Cetaceans are up against a range of difficult challenges - climate change, the impacts on their food supplies, ship strikes as well as of course, the activities of countries which are actually killing whales in the name of science.
So we think that there is an absolutely strong and very, very necessary additional level of research that will give us a greater understanding of these creatures - provide by that understanding, a strong arguments to have rigorous science that the mechanism for determining whether or not whales should be killed in the International Whaling Commission.
SIMON LAUDER: This year, a scientific journal will publish findings from Japanese scientists showing that minke whales are losing blubber because of competition from bigger whales. Isn't that one example of data that can only be collected from dead whales?
PETER GARRETT: Well look, that particular research that you refer to is contested research but the fact is that you don't have to kill a whale in order to take some sampling from it. Genetic techniques and tagging is much more sophisticated than it has ever been.
SIMON LAUDER: Do you have any reservations at all about engaging the Japanese whales on their own territory rather than maintaining the argument that science has nothing to do with whaling?
PETER GARRETT: Well I think it is really important for us to bring this discussion into the fore. Australia doesn't believe that we need to kill whales to understand them. And by actually leading a Southern Ocean research partnership, we will be developing new model for coordinating regional, non-lethal whale research.
Now the context of that are activities that are undertaken in the Southern Ocean by Japan which Australia strongly opposes and is committing to continue to oppose.
PETER CAVE: The Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, speaking to Simon Lauder.