Jun 8, 2005

Meet whales, not whale meat

Meet whales, not whale meat

MEDIA RELEASE – Anthony Albanese MP – 8 June 2005

The whale watching industry brings tangible benefits to people, coastal communities and tourism across Australia, while encouraging respect and care for these majestic marine mammals.

Today I am visiting Byron Bay at the request of the local Federal Member of Parliament, Justine Elliot.

Byron Bay is a fantastic place to watch whales and Australia is very fortunate to have so many whale-watching sites along its coast.

Whale watching is a growing industry which promotes Australia’s efforts to protect whales and their environment for future generations.

Whale watching enterprises in Australia have grown from 42 boats in 1993 to more than 300 in 2004. In 2004, more than 1.6 million tourists went whale watching in Australia.

A report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare found whale watching was a profitable and sustainable industry for Australia worth almost $30 million per year, with indirect economical benefits close to $300 million.

However, the whale watching industry is threatened by Japanese whalers. The slaughter of 400 whales in Australian waters since 2000 by Japan is appalling, and raises serious questions over the failure of the Australian Government to stop this illegal slaughter.

Japan is not killing whales for science – they are killing them for lunch.

Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 is very clear. Whales in Australian waters are protected by Australian law and whaling is illegal. It’s time the Government enforced its own legislation.

The Howard Government recently opposed Humane Society International’s attempt to enforce the prohibition on whaling in the Australian Whale Sanctuary on the grounds that "it would be likely to give rise to an international disagreement with Japan".

Most Australian’s would agree we have a disagreement with Japan over whaling.

Australia’s diplomatic efforts are more likely to succeed if they are backed up by the commencement of legal action in the International Court of Justice.