8 Jun 2005

Australia continues anti-whaling lobbying in Kiribati

3:40 pm on 8 June 2005

Australia will enlist the support of its Antarctica division scientists to help persuade Kiribati to oppose a resumption of commercial whaling.

The Australian Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, has met the Kiribati President, Anote Tong, in Tarawa during his tour of Pacific nations to garner support for Australia's whale conservation stance.

President Tong, mindful of the development support his country receives from Japan and with its own concerns about fish stocks, has failed to give Senator Campbell any commitment on the whaling issue.

But Senator Campbell says he believes President Tong has an open mind on the issue, and has invited Kiribati officials to Australia to see the impact global warming was having on Antarctica and hence, on whales.

Yesterday, Senator Campbell won an assurance from Solomon Islands it would oppose Japan's scientific whaling scheme, which includes plans to take about 800 whales, including humpbacks in Antarctic waters.

The votes of both Solomon Islands and Kiribati are considered crucial for the International Whaling Commission conference in South Korea starting on June the 20th.