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Volume 455: debated on Friday 26 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to curtail commercial whaling. (110462)

Since the 1985-86 whaling seasons, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has maintained a moratorium on the hunting and killing of all great whales. Norway and Iceland, who objected to the introduction of the moratorium, are thus not bound by it and therefore conduct whaling operations legally.

The UK will continue to protest at the highest diplomatic level against Norway and Iceland’s activities which, though legal, are not in keeping with the spirit of the IWC. We will continue our efforts, along with other countries, to urge these countries to reconsider their position and reverse this unjustified and unnecessary practice. Indeed, in November, the UK led a diplomatic demarche of 25 countries together with the European Commission in condemning the Icelandic Government's decision to resume commercial whaling.

DEFRA officials also ensure that Foreign and Commonwealth Office posts in the relevant capitals are briefed, and engage in discussion with their counterparts on whaling at every appropriate opportunity. This ensures that these countries are in no doubt of the importance that the UK places on whale conservation.