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Aust.: Whales, International Whaling Commission

Whales, International Whaling Commission

Senator Campbell:

The purpose of today is to announce that Australia's newly appointed Commissioner to the IWC is departing to go to an inter-sessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission next week in Great Britain.

The meeting to be clear is a meeting of countries that are determined to build a new management structure for the commercial harvesting of whales.

Mr Bamsey, Australia's whale conservation commissioner and former ambassador for the environment, will be going there to prosecute Australia's case that it is absurd to be designing a scheme to harvest whales commercially, highlighting the fact the science is flawed, highlighting the fact these are threatened and endangered species and that to even contemplate reopening commercial whaling is an absurdity.

We're going to a new IWC meeting in the Caribbean in June. The meeting Mr Bamsey is attending in Europe this week is a vital part of the Australian strategy to build our pro-conservation coalition to try to maintain the majority we achieved in Korea (last year's IWC meeting) to stop commercial whaling and to send a clear message about how abhorrent scientific whaling is to Australia and our pro-conservation allies.

It is also important to point out that we won last year in Korea because the other side didn't turn out their vote. On paper, it was a majority to reopen commercial whaling in Korea. Australia is determined to make sure that majority does not achieve success in the Caribbean and the visit that Mr Bamsey is making to great Britain is part of the plan to try and stop that occurring - but there is a very strong risk we will see a majority in favour of commercial whaling when we get to the Caribbean.

We are dedicated to try and see that stopped.

Howard Bamsey:

The reason we're going to the meeting is very important. As the Minister explained, we have always said, Australia's consistently said, we'll oppose the adoption of any revised management scheme because an RMS is a vehicle for commercial whaling - can be a vehicle for commercial whaling - so we've always opposed it.

It is very important for us to make clear at the meeting in Cambridge that the sorts of proposals being discussed now for a new RMS are woefully inadequate by the standards of similar management schemes adopted in fisheries organisations, so what we have at the moment is discussion underway to launch a new management scheme which would potentially allow harvesting of whale stocks - barely recovering for the industrial whaling that almost reduced them to extinction.

We have a management scheme being discussed which doesn't have any of the really fundamental elements that provide a sustainable basis to fisheries organisations and arrangements throughout the world.

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