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Whales: International Cooperation

Volume 475: debated on Monday 12 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Prime Minister discussed possible legal action by Australia against Japan on whaling at his recent meeting with the Australian Prime Minister; and if he will make a statement. (201902)

Whaling was not discussed at this meeting. However, I recently spoke to the hon. Peter Garrett MP, Australian Minister for the Environment about whether legal action might reasonably be pursued and if so, how. I understand Australia is currently considering what, if any, legal avenues are available to challenge Japan’s whaling operations. I assured Mr. Garrett that we would be prepared to examine carefully any suggestions that the Australian government might feel able to make in the light of those considerations.

We also discussed the meeting I held with the Japanese deputy ambassador on 8 January to express the UK's outrage over Japan's ‘scientific’ whaling activities. I assured Mr. Garrett that I had left Japan in no doubt as to the strength of feeling in the UK on the issue and that the UK government will continue to make our opposition to whaling known to Japan at every appropriate opportunity.

We also discussed the recent seminar on commercial whaling I attended in Copenhagen on 10 March. The event was co-hosted by the British embassy and the Society for the Conservation of Marine Mammals. The aim was to raise awareness among the Danish public of the cruel and unsustainable nature of whaling and to attempt to persuade Denmark to take a more pro-conservationist approach at this year’s International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting.

I confirmed the UK will once again play an important role in the conservation and protection of cetaceans at the next annual meeting of the IWC to be held in Santiago, Chile in June 2008. We agreed our countries would continue to be at the forefront of the fight to ensure that countries seeking to remove protection for cetacean species around the world do not succeed.