HC Deb 09 July 1979 vol 970 cc65-6W
Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is now in a position to make a comprehensive staetment on United Kingdom whaling policy.

Mr. Spriggs

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps are being taken by Her Majesty's Government to control and conserve the much-hunted whale stocks of the seas.

Mr. Peter Walker

I have reviewed United Kingdom policy on whaling and concluded that a radical change in direction is required.

I believe that the present methods used to kill whales are unsatisfactory. I am not convinced that the science of whale populations is yet adequate to enable catch quotas to be set at levels which can be guaranteed to prevent a continuing decline in stocks.

The United Kingdom will therefore seek to secure a moratorium on commercial whaling at the IWC meeting held in London from 9 to 13 July. During the period of such a moratorium we would press for further studies. We shall also support the principle of whale sanctuaries.

Special considerations apply to aboriginal whaling by Eskimos and similar peoples to met local nutritional and cultural requirements; the Government believe that such activities should be allowed to continue under strict controls.

I consider that the International Whaling Commission remains the most appropriate body for ensuring international co-operation towards the effective conservation of whales. The United Kingdom will, therefore, continue to be a member and play a full and active part in its activities.

The Government will be seeking to obtain agreement within the EEC for a Community-wide ban on imports of sperm whale oil and other derivatives. We shall also enter into discussions with the user industries.

The Government are concerned that the effectiveness of the measures taken by the IWC to conserve whales should not be undermined by indiscriminate whaling by non-member countries. We are therefore considering whether the United Kingdom could take any further steps to help this objective.

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