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7 December 2009
Environment Minister Peter Garrett has condemned Norway's decision to significantly increase its whaling quota for the 2010 summer whale hunt.
Norway has increased its annual whale quota by 45 per cent, increasing the total number of whales able to be killed from 885 in 2009 to 1,286. In recent years, Norway has steadily increased its whale quota in defiance of the moratorium on commercial whaling.
“Norway's decision is particularly disappointing as it comes at a time when International Whaling Commission countries continue to discuss the reform of the Commission”, Mr Garrett said.
“Australia agreed to participate in these ongoing discussions on the basis that there would be real progress on critical issues ahead of the Commission's next annual meeting.
“The nature and timing of Norway's decision is both provocative and unhelpful.
“At the same time, Japan's whaling fleet is heading to the Southern Ocean for the 2009-10 summer whale hunt. Japan has yet to announce how many whales it intends to hunt this summer.
“Since coming to office the Rudd Government has embarked on an unprecedented effort to bring an end to so-called 'scientific' whaling, including through the appointment of a Special Envoy.
“In addition to our extensive diplomatic efforts Australia is progressing a series of comprehensive reforms through the IWC tomake it a conservation focused organisation, not one that simply counts dead whales.
“Australia has been engaging in IWC reform discussions in good faith but these recent developments are cause for considerable concern.
“We are committed to continuing to work through the IWC reform process. However, as I made clear at the last meeting of the Commission in Portugal, that commitment does not amount to a blank cheque for open-ended negotiations.
“We must see a genuine engagement from other nations, and we must see substantive progress, particularly on the issue of so-called 'scientific' whaling.
“If we do not achieve genuine progress, the Australian Government will consider all options, including options for international legal action”, Minister Garrett said.