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3 February 2009 - Australia must reject dangerous whale deals      

Australia must reject dangerous whale deals

Sydney, 3 February  2009                  
                                                                                                                                                 

Humane Society International (HSI) is calling on the Australian Government to urgently clarify its position on a proposed compromise deal over whaling made public by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) overnight.

The Australian Government was part of the sub-group of the IWC that discussed the proposed deal, yet acceptance of the compromises outlined would mark a dramatic shift in Australia’s long-held anti-whaling policy and deliver a devastating blow to whale protection around the globe.

“If the Australian Government is sticking to its long held anti-whaling policy it should immediately reject the compromises outlined in this document,” said Nicola Beynon, HSI Senior Program Manager.

The proposed deal is an attempt to appease Japan, the most vocal of the three nations that still conduct large-scale whaling. The sub-group worked behind-the-scenes to draft packages for consideration by the full commission which would allow Japan and possibly other countries to expand commercial whale hunts to coastal waters.

What is proposed would undermine the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling, implemented in 1986, and provide an official stamp of approval for Japan’s self-allotted quotas. Japan has defied the whaling ban for two decades and continued its large-scale whaling operations killing more than 15,000 great whales under the guise of science.

The proposed deal appears to put all decisions regarding conservation and protection issues on hold for five years, but would result in an immediate partial lifting of the moratorium on commercial whaling once the deal has the IWC’s consent.

The only concession that Japan makes under the deal is to promise to reduce the number of whales it kills in the IWC-designated Southern Ocean Sanctuary. There will be no mandatory sanctions should the promise be broken.

The proposed compromise also opens the door for other countries to initiate hunts in their coastal waters and therefore is likely to increase the overall number of whales killed in the long term.

HSI had supported Australia being involved in the negotiations to warn of the serious risks and dangers in a compromise. “Now we have seen the product of the negotiations, and there is little evidence Australia’s views have held sway, Australia must be clear that they reject the compromises proposed,” said Ms Beynon.

HSI and a coalition of environment groups have also written to President Obama asking him to withdraw US support for these compromises. 





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