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


28 May 1999

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill said Australia had continued to push its proposal for a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting in Grenada this week.

"Australian and New Zealand delegates have carried out important negotiations over the past week. We'll be consulting with other nations over the next 12 months and I'm hopeful this joint proposal, the first step in our campaign for a truly global whale sanctuary, will be accepted at next year's IWC meeting in Adelaide," Senator Hill said.

Senator Hill welcomed the IWC's continuing strong support for whale conservation measures including strong endorsement for the Southern Ocean Sanctuary for great whales.

"Attempts by Japan to abolish the sanctuary or have it opened up to limited whaling were either defeated or withdrawn," Senator Hill said.

Japan currently takes about 440 minke whales each year in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, and about 100 minke whales in the North Pacific, in the name of "scientific research".

"Australia successfully proposed a resolution at the meeting urging Japan not to re-issue a permit for this lethal research in the coming year. The IWC passed the resolution by a resounding two-thirds majority," he said.

Senator Hill also welcomed a decision by the IWC to specifically include environmental concerns on its agenda, voting to provide substantial funding for research on ecosystems in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary and effects of pollution on whales.

Australia made clear at the meeting its desire for a permanent end to all commercial whaling and again rejected the 'Irish proposal' which would allow a limited resumption.

"Australia will continue to push for the protection of whales in all international forums, including the next meeting of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) where we'll again be supporting the world-wide ban on trade in whale meat and whale products," Senator Hill said.

Media contact: Rod Bruem (02) 62 77 7640 or 041112 8582

Commonwealth of Australia