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Outrage at plan for Japan to kill whales in N -

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Outrage at plan for Japan to kill whales in North Pacific

The World Today - Tuesday, 27 January , 2009 12:34:00

Reporter: Brendan Trembath

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government is insisting that it's still opposed to whaling despite
accusations that it is involved in negotiations to allow Japan to kill whales in its own waters in
exchange for scaling back its Antarctic hunt.

Environmentalists are outraged that the International Whaling Commission is putting forward such a
proposal and that the Australian Government is taking part in the negotiations.

But the Federal Government says the discussions are only at a preliminary stage.

Brendan Trembath reports.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Japan's whaling fleet is currently conducting its annual hunt in the vast
Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica.

The killing of whales in these waters could stop under a proposal being negotiated by the
International Whaling Commission, but environmentalists are outraged at what Japan's being offered
in return.

PATRICK RAMAGE: The proposal being put forward by the working group of the IWC is not to end
scientific whaling by the Government of Japan, it's simply to export it. And make an arrangement
whereby Japan could kill an equal number of whales in waters of the of the North Pacific.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Patrick Ramage is the director of the Global Whale Program for the International
Fund for Animal Welfare.

PATRICK RAMAGE: We would prefer to see the negotiations aimed at a steady process of reducing the
number of whales being killed rather than granting new rights for whaling countries.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The proposal for Japan to cut back whaling in the Southern Ocean comes from the
International Whaling Commission chairman William Hogarth.

He has told the Washington Post newspaper that he raised the plan in weekend talks in Hawaii. Dr
Hogarth acknowledged the plan would be controversial but better than the status quo.

The Australian Government has been drawn into the controversy because Australia is one of the
nations involved in the negotiations.

But the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has told the ABC's News breakfast program that Australia's
policy on whaling remains the same.

STEPHEN SMITH: These discussions, as I understand it have been taking place, but they're a long way
from any formal proposal or formal suggestions or anything that the Australian Government has
agreed to. Our priority remains to Japanese ceasing whaling in the Great Southern Ocean and our
overall objective is for whaling to end completely.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: But the Federal Opposition accuses the Government of betraying Australia's

The Opposition's environment spokesman Greg Hunt.

GREG HUNT: Australia under Peter Garrett has been part of negotiations to reintroduce commercial
whaling off the Japanese coast, to increase the scientific whaling take in the North Ocean and to
allow continued the increasing scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean. In effect, its game, set
and match Japan. They get to reintroduce commercial whaling, they get increase scientific whaling
in the north and to continue so-called "scientific whaling" in the south. This is a plan which
Japan will love.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: But doesn't Australia have to have a seat at the table? It doesn't necessarily
endorse every suggestion that's put forward.

GREG HUNT: We have to rule out categorically commercial whaling, right from the start, there can be
no commercial whaling. It is a retrograde step, it's a 19th Century agreement in the 21st Century.
It is almost inconceivable that Peter Garrett is even considering endorsing a reintroduction of
commercial whaling in the 21st Century.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: So you wouldn't support any sort of plan that would see Japan harvest more whales
in its own area and fewer whales in the south?

GREG HUNT: The reintroduction of commercial whaling in the 21st Century is completely unacceptable.
Under this plan, not only do they take more whales in the north, but they get to continue whaling
in the south.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Whaling policy will be a hot issue the next couple of months.

The International Whaling Commission is due to hold its annual meeting in the Portuguese region of
Madeira in June.

ELEANOR HALL: Brendan Trembath with that report.