Green groups call on Rudd government to move on whales protection
Wednesday December 12, 2007 – With the Japanese whaling fleet bearing down on the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, Greenpeace, The International Fund for Animal Welfare, Humane Society International, Project Jonah and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society call on the Rudd government to move quickly to deliver the protection for whales it promised during the election campaign and challenge Japan’s so-called ‘scientific’ whaling program in the Southern Ocean.
The whalers are determined to kill more than a thousand whales this summer including 935 minke whales, 50 endangered fin whales, and for the first time in 40 years, 50 threatened humpbacks.
As an immediate measure to protect the whales, the groups urge Environment Minister Garrett to make a formal protest under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) about Japan’s killing of humpbacks. “The Japanese government are breaching the international trade convention with their plans to import humpback whale meat into Japan,” said Greenpeace CEO Steve Shallhorn.
"It is up to the new Australian Government to do all it can to protect Australia's $300 million whale watching industry. It can start by informing the CITES Secretariat of Japan’s potential breach and follow up by sending a vessel to the Southern Ocean”, continued Mr Shallhorn.
Humpback whales are listed under Appendix 1 of CITES, which does not allow trade for commercial purposes in products from protected species. Yet after killing the humpback whales in the Southern Ocean, Japan will import, package and sell the meat for consumption.
The CITES convention regulates the sale and transportation of vulnerable wildlife species across national borders including species killed on the high seas and then imported into CITES member countries. More than 170 countries are members of CITES, including Japan, which joined the treaty in 1980.
The CITES Secretariat has available a number of measures to discourage Japan from taking humpback whales.
• issue a written caution to Japan;
• send public notification through the Secretariat to all Parties of the issue;
• notify Japan that it is in non-compliance and request a compliance action plan, and finally
• recommend a suspension of trade with Japan in CITES listed species
“Japan has defied the International Whaling Commission, undermined the whaling moratorium, violated the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and now intends to disregard CITES as well. International pressure such as a censure from the CITES secretariat could bring a halt to Japan’s plans to kill 50 humpbacks this year,” said IFAW’s Darren Kindleysides.
Philippa Brakes of WDCS added, “Everyone who cares about whales and the Australian whalewatching industry is eager to hear what steps the government is going to take. The Australian Government should lodge a formal protest with the CITES Secretariat in addition to the promised surveillance of the whaling fleet.”