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

19 May 2002

Whaling Commission Must Listen: South Pacific Solidarity for Whale Sanctuary


The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today appealed to International Whaling Commission (IWC) members to recognise the overwhelming regional support for the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary and vote in its favour.

"I remind all IWC members of the support Pacific Island Forum leaders have given to the establishment of a sanctuary in their regional waters. To vote against us is to vote against the wishes of the region," Dr Kemp said.

"Particularly, I would like to ask nations who are still undecided on their position to stand with us and support the sanctuary.

Dr Kemp arrived in Japan today to deliver in person the call from the Australian people to allow the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary to be ratified by the IWC. He will also lend Australia's support to other anti-whaling countries that have gathered in the small whaling village of Shimonoseki to fight Japan's push to resume commercial whaling.

The South Pacific Whale Sanctuary would stretch south from the equator to meet the boundary of the existing Southern Ocean Sanctuary, and from the edge of the Indian Ocean Sanctuary (mid-way along Australia's southern coastline) roughly 7,000 km east to the Pitcairn Islands.

"The Australian Government welcomes the news that Niue and Papua New Guinea have just declared their waters as whale sanctuaries and that French Polynesia is following suit. The sanctuary in French Polynesia will establish the largest whale sanctuary in the Pacific Ocean, representing an area spanning over 4 million square kilometres an area greater than the size of Europe. I would particularly like to acknowledge France in its role in the establishment of this important sanctuary," Dr Kemp said.

The Niuean Cabinet passed the Niuean Whale Sanctuary Regulations on 15 May 2002, which declares all Niuean waters as a whale sanctuary and prohibits the killing or taking of whales and porpoises in waters under its jurisdiction.

"Niue, PNG and French Polynesia join a growing number of South Pacific Island governments, including the Cook Islands and Tonga, which have either declared their waters as whale sanctuaries or announced their intention to do so.

"These announcements demonstrate the region's desire to create a sanctuary for whales in the South Pacific, and come at a crucial time as the IWC considers a resolution, co?sponsored by Australia and New Zealand, to establish the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.

To view the joint submission by Australia and New Zealand, A South Pacific Whale Sanctuary, please visit the International Whaling Commission web site:
http://www.iwcoffice.org/2002_meeting.htm

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

Whale Sanctuaries in the South Pacific

Related Information

Commonwealth of Australia