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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Whaling talks advance reform agenda

Media release
12 March 2009

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At the conclusion of the discussions of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Rome, Environment Minister Peter Garrett said Australia's proposals for modernising the Commission into a genuine conservation-focused organisation continue to receive strong support from around the world.

Mr Garrett said discussions at the intersessional meeting of the IWC on the future of commercial and so-called 'scientific' whaling ended on Wednesday with Australia committing to continue to work with other nations ahead of the next meeting of the IWC in Portugal later this year.

"While this was not a forum for decision making or new proposals, it does mark a critical phase of engagement as we look towards the annual meeting of the IWC this June. Discussions in Rome were constructive and I am pleased the Commission agreed to the continuation of negotiations through the Small Working Group, who will report on progress in Portugal.

"Australia will continue to be part of this process in an effort to break the gridlock and modernise the focus of the Commission.

"This intersessional meeting marks 12 months since Australia tabled proposals in the Commission for the modernisation of the organisation and I am very pleased that support for those proposals continues to grow amongst the international community.

"This reform agenda will take a major step forward on 23 March, when Sydney hosts participants in the Australian Government's Southern Ocean Research Partnership planning workshop, launching the largest international whale research project in the world.

"The Commission's history of gridlock is simply not acceptable. It is taking the cause of whale conservation backwards, and in the spirit of finding a way forward, Australia will continue to listen and discuss all views, standing firm in our opposition to commercial and so-called 'scientific' whaling.

"Australia will only support changes within the IWC that bring us closer to our goal to eliminate whaling for good," Mr Garrett said.

Commonwealth of Australia