[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Australia imported whale materials


Whale imports into Australia were 'covertly authorised'
EXCLUSIVE by Miles Kemp The Daily Telegraph December 28, 2011 12:00AM

DESPITE decades of protests against whaling, the importation of whale products into Australia was covertly authorised for "scientific research", an investigation has found.

Since 2005, four companies have been granted two-year permits to import fresh whale products including blood, according to federal government documents obtained under Freedom of Information.

The unspecified products, including from humpback and right whales, are limited to 20g or 20ml at each time for "laboratory" use.

However, activists want a public register to identify what research the products are being used for and if it is to assist endangered species.

Greens MLC Mark Parnell said more information about the importation should be publicly available.

"We know that Japan's so-called scientific whaling is a front for illegal commercial whaling and I think most Australians would hate to think that we were criticising other countries' commercial whaling while at the same time importing materials that come from that same immoral trade," he said.

Details of the importation were obtained from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, which would not reveal the nature of the research for which they were destined.

A department spokesman said it was very unlikely the companies involved would consent to "commercial-in-confidence" material being released to the public.

Environment Minister Tony Burke, who oversees the Australian campaign against Japanese whaling, said none of the approvals were granted by the current government.

"This is the first I've heard of it. I'll look into it," he said.

The importers were allowed to source the whale products from any country, including from Japan.

Greenpeace spokesperson James Lorenz said the government should reveal all species of whale which were subject to the import approval, especially those that were endangered.

"It is unusual that the humpback and right whale are identified but no details about the others," he said.

Government institutions such as the SA Museum are given automatic international permits for preserved whale items, allowing them to carry out research to save endangered species.

South Australian Museum curator of mammals Dr Catherine Kemper said it was difficult to identify what research was being carried out given the limited detail released by the department.

"Most genetic research would be preserved in something like alcohol. (It) would not be fresh material," she said.


Stay on top of your group activity without leaving the page you're on - Get the Yahoo! Toolbar now.




Post a Comment