Jun 14, 2006

Let’s kick a goal for the environment and beat Japan on whales too

Let’s kick a goal for the environment and beat Japan on whales too

MEDIA RELEASE – ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

14 June 2006

The Government must do more to save whales than last minute diplomacy.

No matter what the result is at this week’s meeting of the International Whaling Commission, Japan will still slaughter more whales in 2006 than ever before and its so-called scientific whaling will be expanded to include humpback whales.

Given this week’s IWC meeting will not stop Japan slaughtering whales, it is time the Howard Government took Japan to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to stop whaling for ever.

Legal action would reinforce diplomatic efforts and show the world we are serious about stopping the slaughter of whales.

Ian Campbell trumpets his concern for whales, but the test is whether the Howard Government actually saves a single whale.

Strong legal advice by Professor Don Rothwell and others, prepared for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, shows that Australia could successfully challenge Japanese whaling at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Dismissing such strong legal advice is like refusing to take a penalty kick in soccer. If you were serious about winning you’d take the shot.

In 1999 the Howard Government’s appeal to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to stop Japan fishing for southern blue fin tuna was led by Attorney General Daryl Williams. Taking legal action helped the campaign to stop illegal tuna fishing and we should take legal action in the campaign to save whales.

The Australian Government has acknowledged that Japan is on the brink of winning a majority at this week’s meeting of the International Whaling Commission.

With a majority at the IWC Japan could implement secret ballots, remove whale conservation from the IWC agenda and direct the IWC’s scientific committee to work only on whale hunting questions.

It is a tragedy that many Pacific Island nations will probably vote with Japan at the IWC. Australia’s campaign for international action to outlaw whaling is undermined by our status as an international pariah on the biggest issue facing Pacific Island nations, namely avoiding dangerous climate change.