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28 June 2010
Environment Protection Minister, Peter Garrett, said today the door was now open for the International Whaling Commission to grasp a unique opportunity for genuine renewal and reform following last week's meeting in Morocco.
Minister Garrett said he welcomed the outcomes of the meeting, which made progress on conservation initiatives and importantly did not proceed with a proposal by the Chair which would have ended the moratorium on commercial whaling.
"Australia faced a number of significant challenges as we headed into last week's IWC meeting including the need to ensure that the moratorium on commercial whaling was retained and to ensure that we continued to advance our strong reform agenda.
"I am pleased that the Australian delegation which I led had the opportunity to make its views heard and that the Commission took some important steps towards renewing itself as a conservation-focused organisation," Mr Garrett said.
"It is now crucial that the IWC does not lose momentum and uses the coming months to focus on practical activities on which member countries can work constructively.
"In part thanks to Australia's leadership, very good progress has been made over the past 12 months in the development of the IWC's first whale conservation management plans, in delivering support for whale watching operations worldwide and in the implementation of a research agenda focused on non-lethal scientific research.
"Australia has already pointed a way forward on these issues through its work with the Southern Ocean non-lethal whale research partnership.
"It also provided significant funding support of $500,000 last year for conservation management plans.
"We will continue to work closely with other conservation-minded countries to finalise regional whale conservation management plans for some of the world's most threatened whale species, including South American southern right whales and western gray whales.
"I encourage other countries to join us in this important work.
"We are also exploring a joint Australia-South Africa collaboration for the second Southern Ocean voyage under the Southern Ocean Research Partnership. A successful six week joint Australian-New Zealand Antarctic Whale Expedition to the Southern Ocean took place earlier this year.
"The IWC also needs to move quickly to review and improve its rules and procedures to ensure that they are brought in to line with contemporary governance standards, following acceptance of Australia's push for the Commission to undertake a stocktake in these areas.
"Australia's vision for the IWC, outlined in our nine-point proposal released in February is very clear.
"We want to see an IWC that will not only ensure the protection of whales into the future, but will also create a modern, scientific and conservation-based organisation.
"Support for Australia's objective of ending whaling in IWC-approved whale sanctuaries sends a strong message that people around the world don't want to see whaling in the Southern Ocean," Mr Garrett said.