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24 February 2009
The Australian Government has expressed its extreme disappointment at the decision by Iceland and Norway to maintain and potentially increase their annual whale harvest.
Environment Minister Peter Garrett said Iceland's interim government had maintained its predecessor's commercial whaling quota increase for 2009 of 150 fin whales and 100 to 150 minke whales a year over the next five years. Similarly, Norway has renewed its whaling quota for 1052 minke whales in 2008, up from 796 in 2006.
Mr Garrett said the news was further evidence that the status-quo in the gridlocked International Whaling Commission was unacceptable and in urgent need of reform, with countries continuing to increase their whaling quotas unilaterally.
"The Australia Government is absolutely opposed to commercial and so-called scientific whaling and we are actively working diplomatically and through advancing reforms in the International Whaling Commission to ensure the global moratorium is upheld by all nations.
"In the same way as we condemn Japan's whaling program in the name of science, we urge the governments of Iceland and Norway to cease commercial whaling immediately."
Mr Garrett said Iceland announced in May 2008 that it would resume commercial whaling less than a year after it had announced to the world it would cease the practice.
"I will be writing to Iceland's interim Minister of Fisheries, Steingrimur Sigfusson, urging him to reconsider," he said.
Mr Garrett said the news was particularly distressing given the fin whale was listed as endangered on the internationally-recognised IUCN Red List.
Norway continues to undertake commercial whaling under an objection to the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.