Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, will today leave for Korea to attend the 57th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to be held in Ulsan from 20–24 June.

Senator Campbell said this was a critical meeting because of reported plans to increase the number of whales taken from the world’s oceans under the guise of scientific whaling, as well as a proposal for a Revised Management Scheme, under which commercial whaling could be reintroduced.

One of the key items to be discussed at next week’s IWC meeting is a proposal from pro-whaling interests for a Revised Management Scheme (RMS) for commercial whaling.

The RMS consists of a series of management measures (including compliance arrangements, catch limits, and inspection and observation schemes) to be implemented should IWC members ever agree to the resumption of commercial whaling.

“Australia will go to Korea in vigorous pursuit of a permanent ban on commercial whaling. We oppose commercial whaling on the basis it is unnecessary, unjustified and inhumane. We will oppose any RMS and will not endorse an RMS should one be agreed," he said.

Senator Campbell said he expected the vote this year to be very close — too close to call.

The other key issue for Australia at this year’s IWC meeting is the submission of Japan's new Antarctic scientific whaling plan - known as JARPA II.

“We are very concerned about Japan’s plans to double its take of Antarctic minke whales and to target threatened humpback and fin whales,” Senator Campbell said.

“For example, the rare white humpback whale Migaloo — who has delighted Australians this week as he made his way along the coast — could be at risk.

“Australia will call for an end to lethal research on whales (so called “scientific whaling”) and for future research to be limited to modern and humane non-lethal methods.”