Subject: FED: Whaling report calls for (fwd)

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Sun, 14 Sep 1997 20:31:20 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: FED: Whaling report calls for

FED: Whaling report calls for OZ to work for ban

   By Melissa Langerman of AAP
   CANBERRA, Sept 12 AAP - A report commissioned by the federal
government has called for Australia to work towards a permanent
international ban on commercial whaling.
But the National Task Force on Whaling, headed by former federal
Liberal senator Chris Puplick, stops short of calling for Australia
to immediately push for an amendment to the International
Convention for the Regulation of Whaling to implement a permanent
ban.
   Instead Australia should work through the International Whaling
Commission (IWC) to achieve the ban as a long term goal.
   "Ideally, we would like to see the International Convention for
the Regulation of Whaling amended to prohibit all forms of
commercial whaling, but we recognise that this may not be a
practical option in current circumstances," the report states.
   It does recommend Australia take more immediate action to close
two loopholes under which whaling is currently being continued for
scientific and cultural reasons.
   "Despite the adoption from the 1986 season of zero catch limits
for commercial whaling in the Schedule to the Convention, in 1996
whaling activities permitted under the Convention are estimated to
have killed in the order of 1,400 individuals of some six species
of great whales," the report says.
   The report, released today by Environment Minister Robert Hill
and Mr Puplick, comes just over a month before the next meeting of
the IWC in Monacco from October 20 to 24.
   Senator Hill said the government would respond to the report's
13 recommendations before the IWC meeting, but noted the report was
consistent with government policy on the 1984 moratorium on
commercial whaling.
   "The time is right for Australia to again take the lead in
efforts to turn this moratorium into a permanent international
ban," Senator Hill said.
   The report is a sensitive document because it effectively calls
for Australia to argue against one of its largest trading partners,
Japan, which is pro-whaling.
   Senator Hill said Australia would oppose efforts by Japan and
Norway to encourage a resumption of whaling.
   "The Howard government is determined that Australia will lead
the world in opposing any moves to resume commercial whaling," he
said.
   The document does not include information on trade and
diplomatic issues which are regarded as too sensitive by the
federal government.
   However, it notes political factors may influence the potential
to resume commercial whaling and that access to the Japanese market
will be the key factor in any resumption.
   The report says Australia must ensure there is no support for
initiatives which could undermine whale protection in forums like
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(CITES).
   The report also calls for Australia help set up a global whale
sanctury in international waters and exclusive economic zones, but
the recommendationexcludes territorial waters up to 12 nautical
miles from coastlines.
   Humane Society director Michael Kennedy said this exclusion
could provide one of several weak links in Australia's case.
   "Because the Japanese have been seeking cultural whaling along
coastlines in these areas that could be a major loophole and
certainly could make their campaign a little weaker on the
international forums they are going to have to fight in," he said.
   The report says exemptions from the moratorium to allow
aboriginal subsistence whaling have been abused and the term must
be more tightly defined.