Jun 8, 2005

National Oceans Office Not Celebrating World Oceans Day

National Oceans Office Not Celebrating World Oceans Day

MEDIA RELEASE – Anthony Albanese MP – 8 June 2005

Today is World Oceans Day but Australia’s National Oceans Office isn’t celebrating. They’ve been abolished.

It’s extraordinary that the Federal Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, has trumpeted the creation of the National Oceans Office as one of the Howard Government’s achievements in the marine environment. Perhaps he’s forgotten this year’s Budget confirmed the abolition of the National Oceans Office as an independent agency.

The truth is the Howard Government is confused and incompetent when it comes to marine conservation. The Howard Government has:

· watched on the sidelines whilst Japan has stacked the International Whaling Commission;

· refused to enforce their own laws to prosecute Japanese whalers killing 400 whales in Australian waters since 2000;

· opposed the Humane Society International’s attempt to enforce Australian laws on the grounds that “it would be likely to give rise to an international disagreement with Japan over whaling”; and

· refused to take Japan to the International Court of Justice over its slaughter of whales.

Today I’m celebrating World Oceans Day in Byron Bay at the request of the local Federal Member of Parliament, Justine Elliot.

Byron Bay is one of the most beautiful coastal communities in Australia and it is a fantastic place to watch whales.

On World Oceans Day, we should remember the whale watching industry brings tangible benefits to people, coastal communities and tourism-related businesses from Sydney to Albany, while encouraging respect and care for these majestic marine mammals.

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 economic benefits close to $300 million.

Let’s celebrate World Oceans Day by looking after our whales and our marine environment.