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Australia for whaling reform

Latest update : 2008-03-04

Australia said it will propose that the International Whaling Commission (IWC) close loopholes that allow Japan to continue whaling.

SYDNEY — Australia said Saturday it hoped to close a loophole in International Whaling Commission (IWC) rules that allows Japan to conduct whaling as long as it is carried out for scientific research.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett said Australia would present a proposal to an IWC meeting in London next week setting out new rules for scientific programmes carried out under commission rules.

He said the new rules would favour non-lethal methods and strengthen IWC supervision of whale research, making it a collaborative international effort rather than having individual countries carry out their own programmes.

"Australia is full bore in our opposition to the killing of whales in the name of science," Garrett told reporters.

Under current rules introduced in 1986, commercial whaling is banned but the giant mammals can be killed for scientific research purposes.

Japan kills up to 1,000 whales annually under its scientific programme, although it concedes most of the meat ends up on dinner plates.

The issue has created tension between Tokyo and Canberra, which opposes whaling and this year sent a ship to monitor Japan's whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean.

It has also led to high-seas confrontations between whalers and environmentalists determined to stop the cull.

Garrett said Japan may scale down its whaling programme if it could no longer argue it was legitimate scientific research carried out under IWC rules.

He said the IWC could oversee robust scientific programmes aimed at whale conservation "not simply signing off on the killing of whales in the name of science".

"It can start to use science and [address] the great concern Australians and many other people in the world have about the death of these whales, and develop conservation as a major ambition for the commission," he said.

Japan says its whaling is legal and part of its culture and accuses Western countries, led by Australia, of insensitivity.

Date created : 2008-03-01

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