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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

6 March 2002

Australia Alarmed by Plans to Re-open Whale Meat Trade

Australia strongly opposes moves by Norway and Japan to resume their trade in whale meat, the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said today.

"This is the second alarming announcement within a week to indicate that whaling nations are aggressively charting a course to resume hunting whales on a commercial basis, despite international opinion," Dr Kemp said.

Earlier this week, the media reported plans by Japan to expand its lethal whale research program in the North Pacific. A distressing part of Japan's program for 2002 was the addition to the Scientific Permit hunt of a highly endangered species, the sei whale.

Now, reports indicate that the Government of Japan intends to import up to 100 tonnes of minke whale meat from Norway, beginning as early as April 2002.

"Norway admits its whaling is for commercial gain. Japan describes its programs as scientific research. Australia consistently opposes both as the results are the same - whales, which hunters pushed to the brink of extinction in the past, are sold for human consumption," Dr Kemp said.

"This move to increase the supply of whale meat to Japanese markets doesn't add up, as 220 tonnes of the stock remains unsold on wholesalers' shelves.

"It appears a blatant gesture by whaling nations to put the world on notice that they will continue to hunt whales, despite international opposition.

Dr Kemp said Australia opposes the proposal and continues to seek an end to all whaling and trade in whale products.

"The Australian Government will continue to promote increased protection for whales at the next International Whaling Commission meeting to be held in Shimonoseki, Japan this May," he said.

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia