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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Rome discussions vital in goal to end whaling

Media release
9 March 2009

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Key discussions on the future of commercial and so-called ‘scientific’ whaling and the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will be held at a three-day meeting in Rome from Monday.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett said Australia’s proposed plans for modernising the International Whaling Commission into a genuine conservation-focused organisation continued to be advanced through the Commission processes while Australia’s primary objective remains a complete ban on commercial whaling, including an end to so-called ‘scientific’ whaling.

“The Australian Government has invested $32 million over six years in non-lethal research and other initiatives to combat so-called ‘scientific whaling’. This includes $14.5 million for non-lethal whale research in the Southern Ocean and $14.7 million for the Australian Marine Mammal Centre, co-located at Hobart’s Australian Antarctic Division.

“Australia’s delegation to the Rome intersessional of the IWC will advocate our robust conservation agenda, and continue to listen to the views of other countries in order to get a better understanding of all positions within the Commission at this critical time.

“While this is not a decision making forum, our Delegation will follow up on intense diplomatic activities undertaken over recent months, including through Australia’s Special Envoy, Mr Sandy Hollway. This is part of our preparations for the upcoming annual meeting of International Whaling Commission in Madeira, in June this year.

“The decade-long status quo within the International Whaling Commission means that progress towards a world free from commercial and so-called scientific whaling has been stalled,” Mr Garrett said.

“The Commission’s gridlock is not acceptable because it is taking the cause of whale conservation backwards. This gridlock has seen the unilateral killing of whales in increased numbers by Japan, Norway and Iceland, either commercially or under the guise of science.”

Mr Garrett said the Chair of the Commission and the Chair of the Commission’s Small Working Group prepared a paper to be discussed in Rome. This paper provides the Chairs’ suggestions on how contentious issues might be addressed, taking into account a range of national opinions and priorities.

Mr Garrett reiterated Australia’s resolute opposition to commercial whaling and so-called scientific whaling.

“In the spirit of finding a way forward, Australia is willing to listen to and discuss all proposals, but the Australian Government remains opposed to commercial whaling and so-called ‘scientific’ whaling. Australia will only support changes within the International Whaling Commission that bring us closer to our goals –to eliminate whaling for good.”

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