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18 Countries Call on Japan to End Scientific Whaling

Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp, MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Alexander Downer MP

Slaughtered Sperm whales

CANBERRA, 7 May, 2002 - Australia Joined Seventeen Other Countries in Calling on Japan to End Scientific Whaling.

In Tokyo Australia joined 17 other countries in making a demarche to Japan opposing its scientific whaling program.

The demarche sets out our strong concerns about Japan's continuing program of lethal whaling. Australia is disappointed that Japan is now expanding its program of whaling in the North Pacific to include another species, the sei whale.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists the sei whale as endangered because it faces a very high risk of extinction in the near future. Reports suggest Japan plans to target 50 endangered sei whales in the 2002 season and to increase its take of minke whales by 50 to 150.

There is ample evidence that the scientific objectives of Japan's research program could be achieved using non-lethal means.

Eighteen countries including Australia are calling on Japan to comply with International Whaling Commission (IWC) resolutions which urge Japan to end its lethal whaling research program.

Australia will continue to promote increased protection for whales at the forthcoming meeting of the IWC in Shimonoseki later this month.

The countries which joined Australia in voicing opposition to Japan's scientific whaling program were: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Peru, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, UK and the US.

Media Contacts:
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's office) (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Chris Kenny (Mr Downer's office) (02) 62613098 or 0419 206 890

Joint demarche, 7 May 2002

The following is the text the high-level group of diplomats delivered:

"The Governments of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Peru, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States strongly reject Japan's recently-announced JARPN II unilateral scientific research program, which is to be undertaken under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission. As member states of the IWC, our Governments consider Japan's actions as undermining the authority of the IWC, and as designed to undo the decades of progress that have achieved the substantial level of protection that whales enjoy today. The JARPN II program represents a major expansion of Japan's whaling operations, with a proposed catch in the North Pacific in 2002 of nearly double last year's figure, and which will for the first time include sei whales, a species which is classified as Endangered on the Red List of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The proposed "scientific" catches are also in defiance of measures to protect whales adopted by the International Whaling Commission(IWC), as sei whales have been classified as a protected stock since 1975."

"Our Governments reaffirm their strong commitment to the conservation of whales, while at the same time rejecting commercial whaling and opposing any measures that imply undermining the moratorium on whaling adopted by the International Whaling Commission. We are concerned that Japan's activities conducted under the "scientific research" provisions of the IWC are not supported by the majority of the Scientific Committee and represent a continuously increasing level and range of catches for what in effect is a unilateral program carried out by a single member State, without the approval of the majority of the IWC's other members. The Commission has adopted resolutions at prior sessions calling upon the Government of Japan to abstain from issuing permits for "scientific research" that don't meet the Scientific Committee's criteria. We deeply regret that the Government of Japan has ignored these resolutions."

"We call on the Government of Japan to respect and comply with IWC resolutions on scientific research and to immediately abandon its announced JARPN II program, which does not have the support and approval of the Scientific Committee, nor of a majority of Contracting Governments.

We further deplore the fact that the program includes the take of up to 50 minke whales for the benefit of small-type coastal whaling communities, despite the consistent rejection by the IWC in the last thirteen annual meetings of requests by the Government of Japan for commercial quotas for these communities in exception to the moratorium on commercial whaling."


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