New Australian research shows there is no justification for Japan’s so-called ‘scientific’ whaling, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said today.

As countries like Iceland and Japan continue to kill large numbers of whales in the name of science, Senator Campbell said an extensive Australian research survey had shown there was absolutely no scientific basis for the slaughter of whales.

“At the same time as the Australian survey was underway, Japanese whalers were heading to the Southern Ocean to begin their new so-called scientific whaling programme with the slaughter of almost one thousand whales,” Senator Campbell said.

“Australia remains opposed to commercial and scientific whaling. Both Japan and Iceland continue to conduct whaling under the guise of science while Norway, which will increase its kill of whales this year, simply defies a global ban on commercial whaling.

“Australia has long argued that gathering data about whales and our marine ecosystems can be done non-lethally, wherever it occurs.

“Now this 10-week Australian survey which covered more than one million square kilometres gives us by far the most comprehensive assessment of the marine ecosystem in the whole eastern Antarctic area — the very data that Japan claims it is seeking to justify their lethal ‘scientific whaling’ in the Southern Ocean.

“This latest information — obtained solely through non-lethal means — now represents the most powerful approach seen yet to understanding the role of whales in their Southern Ocean ecosystem and puts Australia at the forefront of international whale research.

“I will be taking this information to the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission in St Kitts and Nevis in June and making it very clear that under no circumstances can this continued slaughter of whales in the name of ‘science’ be justified,” Senator Campbell said.

Japan has been killing whales in the name of ‘science’ for many years, increasing the number of minke whales killed from 330 in 1994 to 440 in 1995. Japan continued at this level until this year under its JARPA II programme which will see an increase to 935 minke whales and, in addition, 10 endangered fin whales. From 2007–08 the plan is to take 50 fin whales and to also take 50 humpback whales while at the same time continuing the minke catch.

Iceland also undertakes scientific whaling, with its take for 2005 being 39 minke whales. And in blatant defiance of the moratorium on commercial whaling, Norway conducts whaling, with its kill quota this year increased by 250 to 1052 minke whales.