Australia proposes end to whaling
The Federal Government says it wants whaling in the Southern Ocean to be phased out over the next five years and for all whaling to be brought under the control of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
An Australian proposal which has been submitted to the IWC also calls for other whaling programs to be phased out over a reasonable period of time.
Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett says a proposal released by the IWC's working group earlier this week falls well short of any outcome the Australian Government could accept.
Conservation groups have welcomed the Government's proposal, which demands closure of the loophole that allows Japan to conduct so-called scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean.
The proposal also calls for an end to whaling in sanctuaries.
Mick McIntyre from Whales Alive says Australia's proposal is a good step, but it must be emphatic in its demand to stop - not just phase out - the inhumane practice.
"It's great to see that the Australian Government has rejected the original proposal from the IWC, which would have effectively lifted the moratorium on commercial whaling," he said.
"And although short in detail, it's heading much more in the right direction for stopping whaling."
But the Federal Opposition says the Government has given Japan the green light to continue whaling in Antarctic waters.
The Opposition's environment spokesman, Greg Hunt, says the Government has broken its election promise to stop whaling.
"Mr Garrett's proposal is a white flag which gives a green light to Japan to continue slaughtering whales in our waters for the next five years, and to continue slaughtering whales infinitely," he said.
But the proposal has angered Japan, who again defended their whaling program.
"It is extremely regrettable that such a proposal was made," said State Secretary of Foreign Affairs Koichi Takemasa, Japan's number-two diplomat after the foreign minister.
Japanese officials stressed the legitimacy of their "research" whaling, conducted using a loophole in an international moratorium.
"It is a legitimate activity based on an international treaty," Senior Vice Minister of Agriculture Akira Gunji said.
"We have to work hard so that the whaling issue will not affect the friendly Japan-Australia relations."
Tensions flared last week when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd bluntly warned Japan it had until November to reduce its whale catch to zero, or face action in the ICJ.
On a visit to Australia at the weekend, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada described the ultimatum as "unfortunate", but said his country would meet any challenge head-on and seek to prove its activities were legal.
Australia, along with New Zealand, has consistently opposed Japan's killing of hundreds of whales each year under a loophole that allows "lethal research".
On 26/02/2010, at 7:07 AM, Sue Taei wrote: