Whale watch worry

COFFS Harbour City council is to send a strong message to its sister city in Japan that it does not approve of whale hunting.

The message that the local community does not agree with the hunting of whales by the Japanese fishing industry is to be taken to the city of Sasebo next month.

"Coffs and Sasebo have enjoyed a very positive and constructive relationship over nearly 20 years," said Mayor Keith Rhoades.

"I hope that we can enlist their council's support in taking our message to the Japanese Fisheries Agency.

"In the letter, we will be outlining the many advantages that whale-watching brings to our community.

"Directly, it provides jobs for staff employed by our local whale-watching firms.

"And it also brings visitors to Coffs Harbour ? one of only a few places on the east coast of Australia where the whales pass close enough to our coast for tourists to enjoy this amazing experience.

"The tourists who come here, in turn, put a great deal of money into our local economy which adds to the whole city's prosperity."

Cr Rhoades believes the resumption of hunting could have a seriously adverse effect on the opportunities for humans to see any whale in the wild.

"I am very supportive of efforts worldwide to stop the hunting of whales," he said.

Cr Rhoades also asked for a report to be brought back to council on the possibility of adopting a whale for the city under the Humpback Whale Icon Program.

Under the program, communities can adopt identified whales that have been monitored since 1991 in the wild.

Welcome signs naming the adopted whale are displayed throughout the area during migration periods.

The mayor and council general manager Stephen Sawtell will travel to Japan next month, the first time council officials have visited Sasebo since 2002.

During the visit, they will take part in a two-day Japan-Australia Societies Conference.

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