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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

17 April 2000


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says Australia's ongoing campaign against commercial whaling has been boosted by an international decision reaffirming a ban on the trade of whale meat.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Nairobi has voted against a proposal by Japan and Norway to allow commercial trade from three stocks of Minke whale and the eastern pacific Gray whale.

Since the mid 1980's CITES has not permitted trade in whale products, including meat, in support of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on commercial take of great whales.

The latest vote were overwhelming against allowing trade with none of the proposals gaining even a simple majority. A majority of two-thirds support was required to allow trade to start. Of particular interest to Australia was Japan's proposal to allow commercial trade in whale products taken in the Southern Ocean. This was overwhelmingly rejected with 46 votes for the proposal compared to 69 votes against.

"This strong vote vindicates the stand taken by Australia and like-minded countries which have lobbied for the permanent protection of the world's whale species," Senator Hill said.

"It is interesting to note that the number of countries opposed to resuming trade in whale products has increased now compared to the last CITES meeting in 1997.

"This is further evidence to countries like Japan and Norway who support whaling that international public opinion is turning against them and that more people believe these great creatures should be able to live freely without the threat of being hunted."

Senator Hill said the CITES vote is a modest step forward as Australia steps up its opposition to whaling prior to the next IWC meeting in Adelaide in June. At that meeting the Howard Government will actively promote its case for a system of global whale sanctuaries, in particular the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary, jointly supported by the New Zealand.

The proposed South Pacific Whale Sanctuary will complement the existing Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean Sanctuaries, providing permanent protection from commercial whaling for many whale populations throughout their ranges.

April 17, 2000

Media contact: Rod Bruem (02) 6277 7640

Commonwealth of Australia