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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
6 June 2005
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, will visit the Pacific this week to continue the Australian Government's international lobbying efforts to prevent a resumption of commercial whaling.
The visit to the Solomons, Kiribati and Tonga follows a diplomatic mission last week in Europe, where Senator Campbell held discussions with key ministers of a number of member nations of the International Whaling Commission to build support for Australia's position on whale conservation.
As part of the Federal Government's efforts to prevent plans by the Japanese Fisheries Agency to reintroduce commercial whaling by increasing its minke whale catch and hunting the threatened humpback and fin whales, Australia last week also led a delegation of 15 countries to raise concerns directly with the Japanese Government in Tokyo.
The delegation, led by Australia's Ambassador to Japan, obtained a meeting with Japan's Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Other countries represented in this diplomatic strategy - called a 'demarche' - were: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Senator Campbell said the coming together of these nations to stop a re-introduction of commercial whaling was a sign of diplomacy in action. It sent a powerful message that many of the world's people recognised the 21st century was a time to further the conservation of these magnificent creatures, not participate in moves to increase their exploitation.
Senator Campbell will continue Australia's diplomatic mission this week in the Pacific.
The 57th meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Ulsan, Korea, in late June will consider a new management framework that, if agreed to, would result in the lifting of the 20-year moratorium on commercial whaling.
Senator Campbell said the Australian Government was particularly concerned about Japan's proposal to double its take of minke whales and to hunt a quota of the threatened humpback and fin whales.
"Our position, which I will be discussing with the highest levels of government in the Pacific nations, is that it is not necessary to kill whales in order to obtain information on their stocks and diet," he said.
"Australia has led diplomatic missions around the world and coordinating with like-minded countries to make known to the Japanese Government our concerns with their proposals. This week's visit to the Pacific will continue those efforts."
Media Contact: Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434