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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Task Force Presents Report on Whaling Ban

10 June 1997

Federal Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill, today welcomed receipt of the report of Australia's National Task Force on Whaling.

The report has been presented to Senator Hill by Task Force chairman, Mr Christopher Puplick.

Senator Hill established the Task Force in September last year to provide advice on how Australia could best achieve its goal of implementing a permanent international ban on commercial whaling.

"The Howard Government's policy is to transform the current international moratorium on whaling into a permanent international ban on all commercial whaling.

"The Taskforce was asked to identify the risk of a resumption of commercial whaling activities and then advise on the best options to achieve a permanent ban.

"The task of achieving a permanent ban will not be easy - clearly, it will require a concerted international campaign. However, we are determined to ensure that whales are left to roam the oceans free from the threat of exploitation.

"The Taskforce met on a number of occasions, received submissions from interested parties and held a public forum in Melbourne. I expect the Taskforce report will canvass various strategies for achieving Australia's goal. I look forward to considering those strategies and announcing the Government's response. At that time I will release a public summary of the report from the Taskforce.

Senator Hill has repeated Australia's call for Japan and Norway to cease their whaling activities. Japanese vessels will kill over 400 minke whales for scientific purposes this year. Norway have approved a catch limit of 580 whales in 1997.

"At the forthcoming meeting of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Australia will vigorously oppose moves by Japan and Norway to reduce the protection for whales under the CITES Convention. We oppose Japan and Norway's proposals to downlist certain species of whales. Their proposals are effectively designed to permit international trade in whale meat and other products to recommence.

"We believe the practice of killing whales is unjustifiable and that it must be stopped.

43 species of whales are present in Australian waters. Senator Hill also formally launched the Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans.

"The Action Plan will assist Australian policy-makers to protect all whales and dolphins in Australian waters. The Howard Government has a proud record on the conservation of whales. It was the Fraser Government that established the Frost inquiry and banned whaling in all Australian waters under the Whale Protection Act 1980.

Senator Hill thanked the Taskforce members and the individuals and groups who contributed to the development of the report.

"The Task Force members are to be congratulated for the energy and enthusiasm they have shown in addressing this pressing challenge."

The other Task Force members are Professor Alistair Gilmour, Macquarie University, Professor Gillian Triggs, University of Melbourne, Ms Pamela Eiser, Project Jonah (Victoria), Mr Atticus Fleming, adviser to Senator Hill, Ms Ruth Pearce, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Dr David Kay, Environment Australia.

Contact: Matt Brown, Senator Hill, 06 277 7640; 0419 693 515
David Kay, Environment Australia, 06 250 0240

Commonwealth of Australia