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

Minister Garrett departs for crucial IWC meeting

Media release
19 June 2010
PG/72

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Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett said today that the 2010 annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission could well be the single most important meeting of the IWC since it voted to establish a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982.

Leaving Australia today to attend the meeting in Agadir, Morocco, Minister Garrett said he would be working hard to reach an agreement that protects whales and ensures that the gains made in whale conservation since that time are not wound back.

"At next week's meeting the IWC will consider a proposal by the Chairs to allow limited commercial whaling, giving Iceland, Japan and Norway the green light to hunt almost 13,000 whales over the next 10 years," Mr Garrett said.

"This proposal would also sanction the killing of whales in the IWC whale sanctuary in the Southern Ocean and also allow threatened species to be killed.

"This proposal is deeply unbalanced in favour of whaling nations and will not result in a reformed conservation focused organisation.

"Quite simply, Australia will not be voting for a bad deal for whales and I will be prepared to work as long and as hard as necessary to ensure that the moratorium on commercial whaling does not end up in tatters on the Commission floor.

"A bad deal driven through the Commission on a split vote is unlikely to achieve reform or a reconciliation between IWC members. We will be working closely with conservation-minded countries, including countries from Europe and Latin America, New Zealand, the United States and others, to achieve an outcome that genuinely improves protection for whales globally.

"Australia's own proposal for IWC reform seeks nine key improvements to the Chairs' plan, including an end to so-called 'scientific' whaling, an end to Southern Ocean whaling and whaling on vulnerable species, and the rigorous use of science.

"Our vision for the future of the IWC is one where the body will play a key role in the conservation and protection of the species.

"I will be going to the IWC meeting with the intention of securing our objectives and I will be actively and constructively participating at the meeting in pursuit of a diplomatic solution.

"Whilst in Agadir I will be meeting with my Ministerial counterparts, including New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully and UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Richard Benyon to discuss how best to progress our shared objectives for whale conservation.

"The Australian delegation will continue to engage with all IWC member nations to convince the three remaining whaling nations-Japan, Norway and Iceland-that whale watching, not whale hunting is the way of the future," Mr Garrett said.

Commonwealth of Australia