Whaling in Australia

Whaling in Australia

Whaling in Australia took place from colonisation in 1788. In 1979 Australia terminated whaling and committed to whale protection. The main varieties hunted were Humpback, Blue, Right and Sperm Whales.cite journal | last = Suter | first = Keith D. | year = 1982 | month = October | title = Australia's new whaling policy : Formulation and implementation | journal = Marine Policy | volume = 6 | issue = 4 | pages = 287–302 | doi = 10.1016/0308-597X(82)90004-5]


Whaling was introduced by European colonisation after 1788. There is no record of Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people hunting whales cite web | url = http://www.aad.gov.au/MediaLibrary/asset/MediaItems/ml_380766866898148_25years.pdf | title = From Whaling to Sanctuary | format = pdf | publisher = Australian Government - Department of the Environment and Heritage | accessdate = 2006-06-06] , although it is said that aboriginal people did hunt "with" killer whales, in stories recounted at the Eden Killer Whale Museum.

Whale oil and baleen (whalebone) were profitable commodities and whaling was one Australia's first major export industries with coastal whaling stations helping build Australia. Sealing and whaling contributed more to the colonial economy than land produce until the 1830s.cite book | last = Macintyre | first = Stuart | title = A Concise History of Australia | pages = p. 36 | id = ISBN 0-521-60101-0]

From colonisation the whaling industry enjoyed 70 years of commercial success, until petroleum superseded whale oil. Also, the 1850s gold rush saw workers abandon whaling for the gold fields.

In the early twentieth century agriculture and mining suppressed a return to whaling. However, Norwegian whalers took an interest in the Australian waters and the Western Australian government encouraged whaling to develop new locations along its coast.

In 1978 the Federal Government appointed Sir Sydney Frost, a former chief justice of Papua New Guinea, to conduct an inquiry into whales and whaling. This followed a direct pro-whale action campaign in Albany and a national community campaign by groups including Project Jonah, Friends of the Earth and the Whale and Dolphin Coalition.

Greenpeace co-founder Canadian Bob Hunter came to Albany in August 1977 to take charge of a direct action campaign against the three whale chaser ships operating from Albany, Western Australia. Zodiacs were taken 30 miles out to sea to place people between harpoons and the whales. This was the first Greenpeace campaign in Australia. Key members of the Whale and Dolphin Coalition, including Jonny Lewis and Richard Jones, then formed Greenpeace Australia.

On July 31, 1978, the first day of the Frost inquiry public hearings, the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company announced its intention to close operations at the end of that whaling season. Cheynes Beach had operated from Frenchman Bay near Albany, Western Australia, since 1952. The Last Whale, a sperm whale, was harpooned on November 20, 1978.

Sir Sydney's report, "Whales and Whaling: Report of the Independent Inquiry", recommended banning whaling in Australia, and in April 1979 the Fraser government endorsed it. Australia is now a global anti-whaling advocate and has taken a strong stance against Japan's whaling program in the Antarctic Ocean.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that whale populations, especially humpbacks, have been steadily increasing since the end of whaling in Australian waters. The current state of the sperm whale population in the Southern Ocean off Western Australia is unknown. Whale watching is an increasingly popular activity.

Australian Whaling Vessels

* Sydney Packet (1826-1837) Built in Sydney, Australia


ee also

Eden Killer Whale Museum

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