Aug 2, 2018
SYDNEY - The Australian government on Thursday condemned Japan's proposal to lift the global moratorium on commercial whaling, saying it will reject any attempts to undermine the ban.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and environment minister Josh Frydenberg said in a joint statement that Australia will call upon like-minded nations at the International Whaling Commission's next meeting in September to oppose Japan's proposal to restructure the IWC and make it easier to resume commercial whaling.
"Australia remains steadfastly opposed to all forms of commercial and so-called 'scientific' whaling and continues to be a leader in seeking to strengthen the International Whaling Commission to protect whales," the statement read.
"We strongly support the 30-year global moratorium on commercial whaling and will vehemently oppose any attempts to undermine the processes that support it, including through changed voting regimes or the establishment of catch-limits for commercial whaling."
In July, Japan proposed resuming whaling of some species of relatively abundant whales.
Tokyo also called for changes to the IWC's decision-making rules, reducing the amount of support required to move a motion from a three-fourths majority to a simple majority. Such a change would make it easier to establish a sanctuary where whaling is banned, for example.
Such changes are expected to make the overall package more appealing to anti-whaling countries.
Although Japan and Australia have forged a strong bilateral relationship, whaling remains a contentious issue, with Australia successfully taking Japan to the International Court of Justice over whaling in the Antarctic.
Japan halted commercial whaling, in line with the global moratorium adopted by the IWC in 1982, but has hunted the mammals since 1987 for what it calls "scientific research purposes."
However, the Australian government remains opposed to Japan's claims of "scientific" whaling.
"The science is clear, you do not need to kill whales in order to study them," the ministers' statement said.
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