HL Deb 25 June 1992 vol 538 cc539-40

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

What conclusions were reached at the International Whaling Commission's humane killing workshop held on 20th-22nd June and how they propose to ensure that the moratorium on commercial whaling is maintained at the International Whaling Commission's meeting later this month.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe)

My Lords, the workshop was chaired by Professor Sir Richard Harrison and undertook a detailed review of whaling techniques and their humaneness. The outcome has still to be reported to the International Whaling Commission and until then the detailed deliberations of the workshop are internal to the commission. The moratorium on commercial whaling came into operation in 1985. Her Majesty's Government will not contemplate any lifting of the moratorium unless stocks are healthy and effective management procedures are in place, and because present evidence suggests that commercial whaling cannot be undertaken in an acceptable and humane manner.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris

My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that his Answer gives me nothing but delight? On behalf of all the whales in the world, I thank him for it. Is he prepared to go a little further? At next week's IWC meeting, will the Government urge all other delegations to stop the process of so-called scientific whaling and support the proposal for an Antarctic whale sanctuary? If so, my cup of joy will be full.

Earl Howe

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his remarks. The Government have opposed, and will continue to oppose, scientific whaling unless the IWC is satisfied that there is no danger to the whale stocks involved and unless the research provides essential information which cannot otherwise be obtained through non-lethal methods. The idea of an Antarctic sanctuary is one of the main items to be considered by the IWC at its Glasgow meeting. It is a very complex issue. We shall need to consider the scientists' advice carefully, but we regard it as an interesting and challenging proposal.

Lord Gallacher

My Lords, can the noble Earl say whether Her Majesty's Government's welcome attempt to extend the ban on whaling to include small cetaceans has any prospect of international acceptance?

Earl Howe

My Lords, the present moratorium on commercial whaling does not apply to small cetaceans such as dolphins and porpoises. Nonetheless, the Government are fully aware of the importance of safeguarding those species and will continue to press for their conservation through the IWC and other international fora.

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