'Live whale' industry growing fast

WHALE conservationists have championed the multi-million dollar ‘live whale’ tourist industry of Byron Bay as a profitable alternative to Japan’s ‘dead whale’ business.

International Fund for Animal Welfare director Erica Wilson, urged North Coast residents – those who have witnessed close-up the majesty of whales – to put pressure on the Australian Government to stand firm on a ‘no compromise’ on whaling, following yesterday’s draft proposal from the International Whaling Commission that would make commercial whale hunting legal.

Ms Wilson said everything was still up for negotiation when the International Whaling Commission meets in Florida on March 2.

“I can see Byron Bay’s much-loved humpback whale being dangled as bait in these negations. Everything is on the table,” she said.

“Byron Bay has built a thriving commercial industry based on live whales. Why can’t Japan profit from going down a conservation path as well?” asked Ms Martin.

Last year Australia issued a report to the International Whaling Commission which stated 13 million people went whale watching in 113 countries, translating to about US$2.1 billion. The report stated the Australian whale watching industry was worth more than $300 million and that whale watching was one of the fastest growing eco-friendly businesses globally.

“Continued compromise on whaling could damage the whale watching businesses of the North Coast,” Ms Wilson said.

In recent years Japan has aggressively recruited votes at the IWC to lift the ban on commercial whaling, set in 1986.

This has split the whaling body into pro-conservation and pro-hunting bodies.

“The new whaling proposal would put science on hold, the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary on ice, and no restrictions whatsoever on the international trade in whale meat,” IFAW whale program director Patrick Rumage said.

“Clearly this package demonstrates that diplomacy is failing the world’s whales,” Ms Wilson said.


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