Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today welcomed the publication and the important findings of a review into modern whaling activities.

“Australia has long insisted that commercial whaling is unacceptable, because there is no truly humane method of killing a whale,” Dr Kemp said.

“These latest results vindicate our position.”

Dr Kemp was referring to the release today of Troubled Waters: A Review of the Welfare Implications of Modern Whaling Activities, published by a coalition of over 140 animal welfare societies in 57 countries. It assessed the available evidence on whale killing methods and concludes that modern whaling operations give rise to serious welfare concerns.

“Australia seeks an end to commercial whaling, not only because it is no longer required to meet essential human needs, but also because we are convinced that the methods used to kill whales involve an unacceptable level of cruelty,” Dr Kemp said.

“I put that argument to the meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Berlin in June 2003, and we will do so again this year, in light of the damning evidence in this publication.”

The report shows that around 1 of every 5 North Atlantic minke whales struck by Norwegian whalers, and 3 of every 5 Antarctic minke whales struck by Japanese whalers, were not killed instantaneously. Some animals took over 40 minutes to die after being struck by the harpoon.

“Recently, I met with the World Society for the Protection of Animals and discussed the report with them. It is clear that there is no humane method of whale killing and I believe I speak for most Australians when I say that it is unacceptable to allow large and intelligent marine mammals to die protracted and painful deaths, merely to be sold as meat on the commercial marketplace,” Dr Kemp said.

“Almost 25 years ago — on 4 April 1979 — the Federal Government decided to ban whaling in Australian waters and to pursue an end to commercial whaling throughout the world, citing concerns about the cruelty of the hunt.

“As we approach the anniversary of this historic decision, our commitment to protect whales is unwavering. At home, the Government designated the Australian Whale Sanctuary, protecting whales and dolphins in 10.8 million square kilometres of ocean. Internationally, Australia is a key supporter of the moratorium on commercial whaling and whale sanctuaries.”