The Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, will fly to Europe and the Pacific to build support for Australia’s position on whale conservation.

Senator Campbell will depart for Europe today (Sunday, 29 May 2005) for discussions with key ministers of a number of member nations of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). He will follow the European mission with meetings with Pacific countries.

While in the Pacific the Minister will also discuss the issue of climate change and the establishment of a tsunami warning system.

The 57th meeting of the IWC in Ulsan, Korea, in late June will consider a new management framework that if voted through would result in the lifting of the 20-year moratorium on commercial whaling.

Japan is also proposing to increase its ‘scientific’ whaling in Antarctic waters.

“This week, I will visit the key European players in the IWC — including France, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden - to share our views on scientific and commercial whaling.

“Australia is of the clear, informed view that whaling under scientific permits should be rejected: it is unnecessary, and nothing less than commercial whaling in disguise. We need to work together to promote conservation.”

The Minister stressed that a sensible, practical approach was needed in the IWC to deliver a conservation-oriented management framework.

“While we do take a different view to Japan and other pro-whaling countries, Australia and Japan remain close friends with shared views on many important issues.”

Australia was a founding member of the International Whaling Commission in 1946, is the host country of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and a key player in Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings.