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Tuesday, 21 March 1972
Page: 703

Senator MULVIHILL asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(1)   What Commonwealth department provided the officer or officers who attended the recent conference in London which adopted a convention aimed at protecting Antarctic seals.

(2)   Does the Australian Parliament need to enable any legislation following the signing of the convention.

(3)   What penalities are provided for non-compliance with the convention.

(4)   What form of supervision is envisaged to combat the poaching of seals in the Antarctic.

Senator WRIGHT - The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:

(1)   The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Primary Industry.

(2)   The text of a Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals was adopted by the conference on 11th February but the Convention has not yet been opened for signature. If it is decided that Australia should become a party to the convention, both signature and ratification will be necessary.

Ratification of the Convention would involve acceptance of a number of obligations, the implementation of which would require legislative authority. It is normal practice in such cases that any necessary legislation be enacted prior to ratification.

(3)   Each contracting party is obliged to adopt for its nationals and for vessels under its flag such laws, regulations and other measures as may be necessary to implement the Convention. National legislation thus provided for would cover such matters as penalties.

(4)   There is at present no commercial sealing in the Antarctic. The Convention provides that at any time after commercial sealing has begun, a Contracting Party may propose that a meeting be held with a view, inter alia, to establishing an inspection system. This provision is supplemented by provision for an annual exchange of information among Contracting Parties on action taken to implement the Convention andon biological data from any seals killed or captured by their nationals and vessels.

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