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Whales: Conservation

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government’s policy is on fish imports from (a) Norway and (b) Iceland; and what account was taken of those countries’ policies on whaling in formulating this policy. (127038)

Fisheries agreements with third countries, including those on imports, are negotiated by the European Commission on behalf of all member sates. Neither the Council of Ministers nor the Commission exercises Community competence over whaling issues and there is no common EU line on whaling matters. Not all EU member states are even members of the International Whaling Commission. As such, negotiations with third countries on fisheries and trade matters are unaffected by those countries’ stance on whaling. While the European Commission joined the recent demarche against Iceland over its resumption of commercial whaling, it did so on its own behalf, rather than on behalf of member states.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will write to EU member states asking them to join the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in sufficient time to enable them to be eligible for voting rights at this year’s IWC meeting in May. (127039)

My right, hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Foreign Secretary have recently jointly written to a dozen EU and Accession States encouraging them to join the International Whaling Commission. A new publication, ‘Protecting Whales —A Global Responsibility’, endorsed by the Prime Minister and Sir David Attenborough has also been sent to these countries encouraging them to join the effort to protect all cetacean species. UK embassies and Ministers across Government will continue to lobby on this issue in the run-up to the next annual meeting of the IWC in Alaska in May. However, not all of those who are willing to join the IWC will be able to complete the necessary parliamentary processes in time to secure voting rights at the 2007 meeting.