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What recent discussions he has had on improving the effectiveness of the International Whaling Commission.
Given the number of whales still killed, the International Whaling Commission is, in the UK's view, failing in its objective to safeguard whale stocks. The IWC will next meet in Florida in March to discuss progress on a number of issues. The UK will attend that meeting but will not agree to any proposals that would be detrimental to either the welfare or the conservation of whales.
Will the Minister state categorically that the UK Government's intention in the talks is not to legitimise existing activities in the southern ocean protection area, but to end whaling altogether, whatever the ambitions of the Japanese Government?
Indeed. The Government have long taken the position that tourist-based whale watching is the only sustainable form of whale exploitation. To give a brief update, we are currently involved in a series of discussions, and we will not negotiate on anything that will weaken our resolve to end commercial whaling. No such package or deal is currently on the table in the reform discussions and, frankly, it is difficult to envisage one in the foreseeable future, particularly while it is unclear whether Japan is willing to restrict scientific whaling operations.
I understand that a proposal may be made in the forthcoming intersessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission in March to introduce a new form of legitimate whaling-so-called coastal whaling. Will my hon. Friend commit the UK Government to opposing any such new forms of commercial whaling?
We have consistently made our position clear, and we have done so again today, but we do not yet have any proposals in front of us. Of course, the IWC needs reform, because it is clearly failing. The small working group is an aspect of the work that has gone on in the past year. We are not represented directly on that, but our views are put through Australia, New Zealand, Germany and other like-minded countries. We will receive details of a proposed way forward in the meeting in March.
This is a despicable trade by Japan, which continues to hunt whales in the name of science while the stocks of dead meat continue to grow as the appetite for whale meat declines in Japan. What on earth are they playing at? My hon. Friend must also know that bluefin tuna is in greater danger. What does he feel about that?
My hon. Friend makes an important point. We made it clear that we would support Monaco's proposal to include bluefin tuna in appendix 1 of the convention on international trade in endangered species and end the trade. We have not been able to get a European Union bloc to support that yet, but we are close. I am pleased that France has indicated in the past few days that it is moving its position towards a moratorium. We will work with European partners-and lobby the United States-to try, in the one opportunity that we have every three years, to end the trade in bluefin tuna, because it is unsustainable.