Garrett rules out return to commercial whaling

Australia looks set to go head-to-head with some of its former allies at this year’s International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Morocco.

A meeting of IWC nations in Florida has just concluded with a number of them pushing for a compromise deal.

The US and New Zealand are backing the deal, which would see a ban on commercial whaling overturned in return for Japan reducing its so-called scientific research.

Australia is standing firm and has rejected the plan, but it may be a lone voice.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett says Australia’s primary objective is the total and permanent elimination of all whaling.

“We will not agree to any compromise which sees us allow for commercial whaling under any guise, under any name,” Mr Garrett said.

“We have a proposal in front of nations in the IWC which has got a very strong reform component, a very strong conservation component and very clear steps to ensure that we don’t see commercial whaling under the name of science.

“We’ll continue to be part of the discussions but we’ll also clearly be pushing our strong position in those discussions.”

Mr Garrett will not say whether he is disappointed that the United States and New Zealand may be edging towards a compromise deal.

However, Australia’s proposal does allow for a five-year phasing out of whaling.

“That’s in the context of our overall call for the elimination of so-called commercial whaling and scientific whaling,” Mr Garrett said.

“We certainly say there can be a phase-down within a reasonable timeframe, but there must be a commitment to go on that journey.”

Mr Garrett says Australia will continue in negotiations while its proposal is given appropriate space, but will not be compromising its position.

“Australia has been the strongest pro-conservation voice in the IWC,” he said.

“Our strong view has always been that in order to break the deadlock there has to be meaningful and deliberate steps taken to achieve what we believe are the necessary conservation goals the IWC should be setting itself.”