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Whales: Conservation

Volume 491: debated on Thursday 23 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps the Government has taken on the establishment of a permanent South Atlantic Sanctuary; what steps it plans to take at the June 2009 meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Madeira; and if he will make a statement. (270054)

The UK has consistently supported proposals for the creation of a south Atlantic whale sanctuary and will do so again if such a proposal is made at the next annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Madeira in June 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in countries which do not engage in whaling on coastal whaling; and if he will make a statement. (270055)

The UK has not held any recent discussions with our counterparts in countries which do not engage in whaling on coastal whaling. However, the UK participated in the intersessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and Small Working Group in Rome in March, where the issue of coastal whaling was discussed, and UK officials have also had discussions with EU counterparts. We have stressed throughout that we could not agree to the setting of catch limits for coastal whaling unless these were fully supported by the IWC’s Scientific Committee and such catch limits formed part of a package, the adoption of which we considered to be beneficial to long-term whale conservation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department’s policy on coastal whaling is; and if he will make a statement. (270056)

The UK continues to have concerns about potential proposals by Japan to introduce a new type of ‘small type coastal whaling’ into the schedule of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). Unlike Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling, which the UK supports, coastal whaling is essentially commercial, with distribution throughout Japan.

We are also concerned that if one country is allowed to carry out coastal whaling, then other countries would argue that they should be allowed similar provisions, ultimately outside direct control of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). We have voiced these concerns in the context of recent discussions on reform of the IWC and shared them fully with our European partners.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on voting on the international moratorium on commercial whaling; and if he will make a statement. (270057)

The UK has not held any recent discussions with our EU counterparts on the international moratorium on commercial whaling. However, the UK Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) met EU counterparts on 31 March 2009 to discuss the forthcoming annual meeting of the IWC in Madeira (IWC61).

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has made to the government of Iceland on its quotas for (a) minke and (b) fin whales in 2009; and if he will make a statement. (270058)

On 13 February 2009, the UK took part in a diplomatic protest (démarche) to Iceland in response to their previous Government’s decision to issue a new commercial whaling quota for 150 fin and 100 minke whales.

In a letter delivered to the Minister of Fisheries, the UK, together with the USA, France, Germany, Sweden and Finland, expressed our Government’s extreme disappointment in the decision to issue a quota, and commended the intention of the new government to re-evaluate this decision.

The UK will continue to impress upon Iceland the fact that its whaling operations are a source of conflict with the UK. We will consider further representation following the forthcoming election in Iceland.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his Japanese counterpart on the international moratorium on commercial whaling; and if he will make a statement. (270059)

The UK has not held any recent discussions with Japan on the international moratorium on commercial whaling. However, the UK confirmed its continued support for the continuation of the moratorium, and its opposition to Japanese whaling, at the recent intersessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission in March 2009, at which Japan was represented.