Monday 01 March 2010

Australia's Answer to the Maquieira Proposal


The Australian Government has been quick to respond to the so-called "Maquieira Proposal", released by International Whaling Commission (IWC) chair Cristian Maquieira last week. [See News Item 28.02.10] The proposal, if adopted, would essentially legitimise the whaling activities of Japan, Norway and Iceland in return for a few minor compromises.

The Maquieira Proposal is one of a number of options to have emerged from the IWC's Small Working Group (SWG) on the Future of the IWC. The SWG is comprised of 12 IWC member nations, including Australia and Japan.

Australia's counter-proposal involves an end to all whaling in the Southern Ocean; a global phasing-out of all commercial and quasi-commercial whaling; no expansion of whaling in the interim; a total ban on all forms of whaling within declared whale sanctuaries; and direct IWC control of all categories of whaling.At present, any nation can issue itself permits to kill unlimited numbers of whales for "scientific research", and Japan has been doing just that.

The proposal timing is crucial, with the next SWG meeting set to begin tomorrow, on 2 March, in St. Pete Beach, Florida, USA. The meeting will be open to IWC-accredited observers but not to the media.

In announcing its proposal the Australian Government restated its commitment to commence legal action against Japan in the International Court of Justice if Japan does not agree by November this year to end its whaling activities in the Southern Ocean.



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