Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Labor's plan to protect whales and dolphins [policy statement]



Download PDFDownload PDF

Tuesday, 28 September 2004

KELVIN THOMSON Media Release from the Shadow Minister for Sustainability, the Environment & Heritage Labor’s Plan to Protect Whales and Dolphins Labor will create a network of Whale and Dolphin Sanctuaries around Australia’s coast and reinvigorate Australia’s efforts to establish a global whale sanctuary. Labor’s plan was announced at the University of Queensland’s Moreton Bay Research Station by Kelvin Thomson, Shadow Minister for Sustainability, the Environment and Heritage, and Labor candidate for Bowman, Donna Webster. “There are many places along Australia’s vast coastline that are critical to the day to day survival of whales and dolphins. Our oceans are their highways, our bays and harbours their nurseries. We have already promised to ban plastic shopping bags, a known killer of marine life. Labor’s network of sanctuaries will build on this commitment and ensure whales and dolphins get the protection they need to thrive,” Mr Thomson said. Whales migrate thousands of kilometres across international boundaries. To comprehensively protect whales, it is also necessary to work energetically and co-operatively with other nations. “Under the Howard Government, Australia’s reputation in the international community on environmental issues continues to decline, particularly as a result of the refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. This lack of credibility has eroded our influence and effectiveness in increasing protection for whales,” Mr Thomson said. Labor’s candidate for Bowman, Donna Webster, said “Labor will launch a reinvigorated campaign to obtain complete protection for the world's whales through the establishment of a global whale sanctuary. The Coalition has been ineffective in achieving agreement on the establishment of a global whale sanctuary. Labor will step up the fight to save whales on the world stage”. For Further Information: Kelvin Thomson MP Phone: 03 9350 5777 Mobile: 0419 594882 Gavan O’Neill (Thomson) Phone: 03 9350 5777 Mobile: 0417 118146 Donna Webster Phone: 38235330 Peter Shooter (Webster) Mobile: 0417 649 158

ATTACHMENT

Labor’s Plan to Protect Whales and Dolphins

Australia’s vast ocean estate is home to an amazing array of whales and dolphins - 46 species -which is over half that found worldwide. They are part of Australia’s natural heritage.

There is not a coastal region of Australia that is not home to whales or dolphins for at least part of the year. Regions on the coast are increasingly building their future with whale watching tourism operations, taking their part of what is now a booming $1b industry worldwide.

But as we increase the use of our oceans, so must we also strengthen our duty of care to sea life. Over 85% of the creatures found in Australia’s southern waters are found nowhere else in the world. This represents not only a marvellous opportunity but a sobering responsibility on behalf of the international community.

We regularly hear not only good news stories of whale sightings and new whale watch businesses, but also sad and sometimes devastating tales of whales entangled in fishing line, slow and painful deaths through swallowing plastic shopping bags, fins sliced unwittingly by boat propellers, and baby dolphins dying prematurely as a result of drinking the toxic milk of their mothers who live in polluted waters. These issues must be addressed.

There are many places along Australia’s vast coastline that are critical to the day to day survival of the whales and dolphins. Our oceans are their highways, our bays and harbours are their nurseries.

Whale and Dolphin Sanctuaries

A Federal Labor Government will:

• Work with state governments, local communities and marine scientists to identify the areas along Australia’s coasts that are havens for whales and dolphins as they travel, calve and feed; and

• Co-operate with state and local governments and regional communities, to create a national network of Whale and Dolphin Sanctuaries, which foster community stewardship for these wild and wonderful creatures, provide a kick start for new best practice whale watching operations, and provide a supportive framework for existing industries to adopt and adapt dolphin-friendly operations.

Federal Labor will draw upon the innovation of our State Labor Governments, most notably the Rann Labor Government which is putting in place a world first -a Sanctuary to protect the world’s most urban pod of dolphins - the Port Adelaide River dolphins. Through coordinated and collaborative management arrangements, the SA Government will achieve a first in wildlife conservation - the maintenance of a wild population of dolphins and their critical habitat in the midst of a busy city port.

Labor’s Campaign for a Global Whale Sanctuary

Labor understands that protecting whales extends beyond our national borders. To ensure full protection of these global wanderers, we must work energetically and collaboratively with other nations.

Labor will launch a reinvigorated campaign to obtain complete protection for the world's whales through the establishment of a global whale sanctuary. The Coalition has been ineffective in achieving agreement on the establishment of a global whale sanctuary. Labor will step up the fight to save whales on the world stage.

In Government Labor will:

• Act decisively to implement fully the recommendations of the May 1997 Task Force on Whaling. The Howard Government has always been on the defensive, not the offensive on whaling, doing the bare minimum necessary to bolster its green credentials and no more. A Latham Government will work with like minded nations such as the UK and NZ to go the extra yard.

• Make Australia a vigorous and active leader in the pursuit of a Global Whale Sanctuary. The Hawke Government set the benchmark for international leadership on the environment by spearheading efforts to protect Antarctica from mining, a commitment that will be maintained and consolidated by a Latham Labor Government's pursuit of World Heritage listing.

• Form a new Task Force on Whaling to give it a lead role in the campaign to establish a global whale sanctuary and consider new international mechanisms for whales and dolphin protection on the international stage. Under the Howard Government the anti-whaling policy has languished and become ineffective. The campaign would be comprehensive in its scope and is expected to contain a number of initiatives including:

É Continued pursuit of a groundbreaking regional instrument with South Pacific nations to protect whales and dolphins under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)

É Vigorously fight efforts to lift the moratorium on commercial whaling. This will be achieved by working against the further development and adoption of the Revised Management Scheme (RMS) and its components such as the Revised Management Procedure (RMP).