Whale centre backs move on IWC

By Luis Feliu

luis@echonews.com

Southern Cross Universitys Whale Research Centre has backed the federal governments latest tactic in its fight against Japanese whaling.

The government is addressing this weeks International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in London, suggesting closing loopholes that allow Japan to kill whales and proposing an international research program and plans to protect whales from contemporary threats, such as shipping and pollution.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett said it was time Australia took a leadership role in the IWC and that if Japan was not able to claim its whaling as scientific research, it may have to scale down its operation.

Director of the SCUs Whale Research Centre, Professor Peter Harrison, said the move reinforced the new Australian Governments strong commitment to ending commercial-scale whaling under the loophole.

Professor Harrison said it was also appropriate to send an envoy to Japan.

But the key is who he/she gets to talk to and how they are received, Dr Harrison said. The fisheries division in the Japanese Government is very powerful and very strongly committed to a return of commercial whaling. They are at odds with other parts of government in Japan such as foreign affairs, trade and tourism who see the whaling issue as a continuing embarrassment to Japan.

Page MP Janelle Saffin said the Australian public clearly wanted to put an end to Japans so-called scientific-based whaling and that many young people in her electorate were very passionate about the cause.

Some people have asked why we dont send in the warships immediately, and its because we obviously have an obligation to settle things diplomatically and peacefully, Ms Saffin said.

Our actions so far have been robust, sending an unambiguous message to the Japanese Government that whaling should be consigned to history. These sort of actions at government-to-government level are proven to work.


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