ANDREW DARBY July 19, 2012
Australia has used the decision by South Korea to abandon plans for scientific whaling to raise pressure on Japan to follow suit.
Reports in Seoul today confirmed the South Korean plan had been scrapped.
Blame was heaped on the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for pushing ahead with the proposal without first seeking a consensus from other ministries.
The Australian Environment Minister, Tony Burke, said Japan should note that there was no loss of faith in South Korea for making the decision.
"It is simply greeted with international appreciation and respect,” Mr Burke said.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr said South Korea has confirmed its reputation as a country seriously committed to the highest environmental standards.
“It's nice to see a friend and partner won't be pursuing whaling," Senator Carr said.
The government confirmed that it was fully committed to the case against Japan's Antarctic "scientific whaling" at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The next stage of the case will be an oral hearing likely in the second half of next year.
South Korea's plans to go scientific whaling for minke whales in coastal waters were revealed in a surprise announcement at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Panama City on July 4.
Under the controversial practice, a loophole in IWC rules allows countries to issue their own scientific permits to take unlimited numbers of whales, circumventing the global moratorium on commercial whaling.
Following a global backlash against South Korea, Senator Carr obtained an undertaking last week from Korean counterpart Kim Sung-hwan. He said Mr Kim indicated that plans for scientific whaling would not proceed.
In Seoul this week, President Lee Myung-bak chaired a meeting to deal with the issue, according to the Korean newspaper, Chosun Ilbo.
It reported an official who took part as saying: "The fisheries ministry was criticised at the meeting for unilaterally announcing the resumption of whaling without discussing the matter with other ministries or the Prime Minister's Office."
Other officials were also blamed for failing to mediate between ministries.
A final decision not to proceed with scientific whaling was said to have been taken on Tuesday.
"Discussions between government ministries have been concluded in a way that effectively scraps the plan to allow whaling in coastal waters," an unnamed senior government official told Yonhap news agency.
- with AFP