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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): Invitations to tender have been issued to a range of British and overseas companies for five defence equipment contracts expected to be worth substantially in excess of £500 million. These equipments are as follows, with companies invited to tender shown in brackets and prime contractor nationality indicated in italics in each case:
Lord Lucas: The International Whaling Commission's 48th annual meeting was held in Aberdeen from 24th to 28th June. The UK delegation was composed of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, assisted by officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department of the Environment and representatives of environmental organisations.
The United Kingdom's principal objective at this meeting was to ensure that the moratorium on commercial whaling, which has been in force since 1986, was not weakened in any way. I am pleased to report that this was achieved. A request by Japan for a quota of 50 minke whales for its coastal communities, which we and many others considered would have breached the moratorium, was once again rejected. The UK's opening statement made it clear that we would continue to oppose all efforts to end the moratorium.
The UK and New Zealand put forward a proposal for a ban on the use of the electric lance, which is used to kill whales that are wounded, but not killed, by an explosive harpoon. Although this received a wide measure of support; it did not secure the majority of three-quarters of those voting needed for adoption under
The United States presented a proposal for an aboriginal subsistence whaling quota of five grey whales for its Makah Indian Tribe, and the Russian Federation sought a quota of five bowhead whales for indigenous peoples in Siberia. Both proposals aroused a good deal of concern, and as discussions progressed it became evident that neither was likely to obtain the three-quarters majority needed for adoption. In these circumstances, both the United States and the Russian Federation withdrew their proposals.
Little progress was made on developing a Revised Management Scheme (RMS), which is being devised to regulate all aspects of any future commercial whaling which might be permitted in the future. The United Kingdom continues to participate constructively in this work, as we believe that if commercial whaling ever did resume it would be essential to have in place tough and enforceable procedures to ensure that whaling only took place on stocks that were at healthy levels and was on a fully sustainable basis. The IWC did, however, endorse new guidelines on carrying out surveys and on calculating estimates of whale numbers; it also agreed new procedures designed to ensure better IWC oversight of these activities.
At the Scientific Committee Meeting there was a lengthy discussion of new estimates of minke whale numbers in the North East Atlantic. The Committee eventually agreed that the most recent estimate, derived from a survey carried out in 1995, was adequate for use in the Revised Management Procedure (the part of a future RMS under which catch limits for a particular stock would be calculated) and Norway claimed that this justified its decision to increase the number of whales it is planning to take this year under its commercial whaling operations. Most countries, however, continue
We also supported a resolution calling on Japan to stop its scientific whaling and, in particular, to halt all scientific whaling within the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. Again, this was adopted by a very large majority.
In the Scientific Committee the outcome of the recent workshop on the effects of climate change on cetaceans was discussed, and steps were agreed to take forward work in this important issue. These were fully endorsed by the IWC itself through a resolution adopted by consensus. It was agreed, in particular, that the Scientific Committee would set up a standing working group to co-ordinate its work on environmental change, and that it would seek increased co-operation with other international organisations working in this field.
A number of other issues were discussed during this meeting. The UK introduced a resolution on small cetaceans, which was adopted by consensus, drawing attention to earlier resolutions on threatened species of small cetaceans and encouraging the Scientific Committee to continue to identify species under threat and to advise on possible remedial action. A resolution was adopted on whalewatching; this endorsed guidelines proposed by the Scientific Committee and drew these to the attention of coastal states responsible for regulating whalewatching. Resolutions were also adopted on improving controls on trade in whalemeat and calling on Canada, which withdrew from the IWC in 1982, to rejoin the IWC if it wishes to authorise aboriginal subsistence whaling.
Overall, this was a satisfactory meeting for the UK, and we achieved most of our objectives. While we were not successful in securing a ban on the use of the electric lance, we made encouraging progress and are well placed to take the issue up again next year at the IWC's 49th annual meeting, which will take place in Monaco in October 1997.
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