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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

26 July 2006

Scientific whale hunt a farce

A report released this week on the so-called scientific whale hunt conducted by Japanese whalers is simply a mask for what is essentially a commercial whaling exercise, the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said today.

A Japanese Government report on the second phase of the Japanese whalers’ annual whale hunt confirmed that over 1,000 whales were slaughtered in the Southern Ocean this past summer. The report was submitted to the International Whaling Commission and confirms many of the whales killed were pregnant or nursing whale calves.

“Let’s be realistic: what Japanese whalers are doing in the Southern Ocean is not science. It is simply thinly-veiled commercial whaling,” Senator Campbell said.

“Australian researchers have already demonstrated that scientific research on whales can be conducted non-lethally. A recently completed Australian survey gives us by far the most comprehensive assessment of the marine ecosystem in the whole eastern Antarctic area – the very data that Japanese whalers claims they are seeking to justify their lethal ‘scientific whaling’.

“The information required to meet these objectives is precisely the type of data that Australia has already collected – without killing a single whale.”

The report also confirmed that much of the Japanese whale hunt occurs in Australian Antarctic waters in the Southern Ocean. Australia’s claim to these waters is recognised only by New Zealand, Norway, France and the United Kingdom.

There will be renewed calls for the Australian Government to take legal action against whalers for killing whales in Australian waters.

“The Australian Government wants to put an end to scientific whaling and while we don't rule out legal action our position, and that of the UK and NZ Governments, is that it is not likely to be successful at this stage and could indeed be counterproductive.

New Zealand’s International Whaling Commissioner and former NZ Labour Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, said earlier this year: “We have been looking at the legal theories that are available against the Japanese for some months…and there is no legal theory that is available that can prevent, in our view, the Japanese from doing what they are doing…A sovereign government cannot undertake legal action unless it has a good chance of success.

The Australian newspaper, 16 Jan 2006

“We will continue of course to pursue those strategies that have the best chance of success until we achieve our ultimate goal of putting a permanent stop to whaling,” Senator Campbell said.

Media contacts:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Commonwealth of Australia