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Greenpeace fears IWC compromise plan -

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Greenpeace fears IWC compromise plan

Sarah Clarke reported this story on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:24:00

ELEANOR HALL: A radical proposal by the International Whaling Commission could see commercial
whaling reintroduced in the Southern Ocean.

Greenpeace says the proposal to overturn the 28 year old ban is a disaster and it comes just days
after the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd demanded that Japan end its Southern Ocean scientific whaling
program by November.

Mr Rudd is threatening Japan with a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice if it doesn't
accept his ultimatum.

The new proposal is part of a compromise plan that would bring Japan's whaling program under the
commission's watch and Greenpeace CEO Linda Selvey told the ABC's environment reporter Sarah Clarke
that that would legitimise Japan's whaling program.

LINDA SELVEY: We condemn the proposal because it will allow the return of commercial whaling and
legitimises the whaling that Japan has been undertaking over the last 20 or so years.

SARAH CLARKE: How does it legitimise commercial whaling and how does it overturn that ban?

LINDA SELVEY: Because previously Japan was using a loophole in the International Whaling
Commission's moratorium on commercial whaling by calling whaling scientific whaling. What this
proposal does is to bring all of the whaling efforts under the umbrella of the International
Whaling Commission thereby legitimising what the whaling activities of Japan and other nations.

SARAH CLARKE: One of the recommendations though suggests that they can now oversee the caps and put
a quota on the number of whales that Japan and the pro-whaling nations can take. Isn't that a step
forward?

LINDA SELVEY: Well, the devil is in the detail. At the moment there is no quotas proposed,
particularly for whaling and the large scale whaling that occurs in the Antarctica and the northern
Pacific areas. So, and it is also a concern that the proposal talks about how these quotas would be
set. That they would potentially be based on arbitrary figures not be any scientific peer review
population estimate.

So without knowing what the quotas are, it is very difficult to know whether this is an improvement
on the current state of affairs but basically allowing any whaling in the Southern Ocean, any large
scale whaling anywhere in the world is not acceptable particularly given that we don't know a lot
about some whale populations.

SARAH CLARKE: Are you therefore surprised that countries like Australia have looked like they are
agreeing to these recommendations?

LINDA SELVEY: Yes, it is difficult to know. What the proposal makes very clear is that there is not
full consensus of this working group and so it is difficult to know what Australia's position in
that working group was but we would strongly call on the Australian Government to oppose this
proposal and to demand the phase out of whaling in the Southern Ocean.

SARAH CLARKE: Isn't consensus needed though to actually allow for this to move forward and to
actually make any ground?

LINDA SELVEY: Yeah, consensus is required and so therefore Australia plays a really important role
in this working group to make sure that what the proposal that comes forward means the phasing out
of whaling.

SARAH CLARKE: As far as you are concerned are there any good points in this proposal?

LINDA SELVEY: There are some good points in the proposal. What the proposal also recommends is the
establishment of a whaling sanctuary in the Southern Atlantic, although it wouldn't be required if
whaling was phased out of the Southern Ocean.

It also increases the requirements of whaling to stick to quotas and monitoring for illegal whaling
but again those are only important if commercial whaling is allowed to continue and really what
should happen is that commercial whaling should be phased out completely.

SARAH CLARKE: If this proposal does get approved, what does this mean for Australia's plans to take
Japan to court?

LINDA SELVEY: This proposal would legitimise whaling and therefore make legal action unlikely to
succeed and therefore this makes a mockery of Kevin Rudd's announcement last week that Australia
would take legal action against Japanese whaling in November because by November it would be clear
that such legal action would not be successful on the basis of this proposal.

ELEANOR HALL: The CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Linda Selvey, speaking to the ABCs
environment reporter, Sarah Clarke.