Australia to oppose lift on whaling ban

Daniel McCulloch
Julie Bishop says Australia remains steadfastly against all commercial and "scientific" whaling

The Turnbull government is being urged to send a senior minister to campaign in person against a push by Japan to relax a global ban on commercial whaling.

The Japan Fisheries Agency wants a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in September to allow the capture of some "abundant" whale species.

But Australia politicians on both side of the divide are vehemently opposed and are calling on like-minded nations to help block the proposal.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia remained steadfastly against all forms of commercial and so-called scientific whaling and would continue to push for stronger protections against the practice.

In the last two years 660 whales have been slaughtered in the Southern Ocean as part of Japan's ongoing scientific whaling.

Ms Bishop vowed to fight any attempts to undermine the 30-year moratorium through changes to voting regimes or the establishment of catch limits.

"Australia has worked tirelessly to see an end to commercial whaling," Ms Bishop said on Thursday in a joint statement with Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg.

"The science is clear, you do not need to kill whales in order to study them."

Labor is calling on Mr Frydenberg to attend the September meeting and make Australia's position abundantly clear.

"Words are not enough," said senior opposition frontbenchers Tony Burke and Mark Dreyfus.

Australia has provided funding to support the IWC's Southern Ocean Research Partnership, to show whales do not need to be killed in order to study them.

The government also backed the International Court of Justice's 2014 finding that Japan's Southern Ocean whaling program was not for purposes of scientific research.

And efforts are underway to ensure Japan's whaling programs in the North Pacific and Southern Ocean are subjected to greater scrutiny.