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Australian Action On Japanese 'Scientific Whaling'

The Hon Stephen Smith Mp
Minister For Foreign Affairs
Joint media release with
The Hon Peter Garrett MP, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts
The Hon Bob Debus MP, Minister for Home Affairs

Action On Japanese 'Scientific Whaling'

Late last year, the Government announced a range of measures to put pressure on Japan to end whaling in the Southern Ocean.

These included new diplomatic initiatives to persuade Japan to cease whaling, reform of the International Whaling Commission, investigation of the options for international legal action, and monitoring and surveillance of Japan's whale hunt this season by the Oceanic Viking and an Australian Antarctic Division A319 plane.

Since the announcement of the measures, Australia has already dramatically increased its diplomatic efforts with Japan.

Australia led the largest international protest of its kind in Tokyo against Japan's scientific whaling program, with the participation of 30 countries and, for the first time, the European Commission.

The Foreign Minister spoke personally to Japan's Foreign Minister on 21 December to convey the Australian Government's strong opposition to Japan's scientific whaling program.

In addition, a Special Envoy on Whale Conservation will be appointed to convey our views to Japan and increase and strengthen dialogue at senior levels.

This year, Australia will upgrade our efforts at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the place where rules on the conservation and protection of whales are made.

The Government will develop its own proposal for improving and modernising the IWC, which will include closing the loophole that allows for so-called 'scientific' whaling. We will work to build and strengthen the coalition of anti-whaling countries in collaboration with other nations.

The Government is also giving serious consideration to a range of options for international legal action against Japan.

The Attorney General has withdrawn the previous Government's submission to the current federal court case concerning Japan's whaling activities in the Australian Whale Sanctuary.

Australia will also act to collect evidence of Japan's whaling activities by monitoring the Japanese whaling fleet using both an aircraft and a surface vessel.

This will be a surveillance activity, not an enforcement activity, the purpose of which is to obtain photographic and video evidence for use in potential international legal action to bring an end to Japan's so-called scientific whaling program.

As was made clear last year, the Oceanic Viking will be deployed for up to 20 days, a significant portion of the current whale hunting season, to monitor the hunt. The Australian Antarctic Division's A319 aircraft will be staffed by the Australian Customs Service to make several surveillance flights during the whaling season.

Since the announcement late last year of the measures that Australia will take, the movement of the Oceanic Viking and the A319 for these purposes has been an operational matter.

The deployment of the Oceanic Viking has been, is now and will be determined on operational criteria to maximise the prospects of a successful surveillance activity.

In previous years, the Japanese whale hunt has commenced in December and has continued until late February or early March.

While the Government has welcomed the decision by Japan not to hunt humpback whales this season, the Government remains opposed to all whaling and will continue to urge Japan to end the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean.


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