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Japanese whaling could have tragic consequences

Prime Minister Helen Clark said this evening that Japan’s continued whaling in the Southern Ocean could well have tragic consequences not only for the whales it was targeting but also for Greenpeace activists who are challenging Japan’s whaling programme.

“I am asking the Minister of Foreign Affairs to contact his Japanese counterpart to make strong representations about the way in which Greenpeace representatives were treated by the Japanese whaling ship.

“New Zealand’s position on Japan’s so-called scientific whaling research programme is well known. New Zealand has long expressed its opposition to Japan’s whaling programme at meetings of the International Whaling Commission and has led a number of successful resolutions calling on Japan to stop its programme.

“Although the international Convention for the Regulation of Whaling does not prohibit whales being killed ‘for the purposes of scientific research;, within the IWC there is a real question about whether this is the purpose of the Japanese activities, given that they clearly do not meet any ‘critically important research needs.’

“With respect to the incident in the Southern Ocean yesterday, all New Zealanders will be concerned at any situation which jeopardises safety at sea. This incident has the potential to turn an already tragic situation into a human disaster.

“New Zealand will be strongly challenging the Japanese programme at the next meeting of the IWC in Adelaide in July. The overwhelming majority of members of the IWC share New Zealand’s concerns about the Japanese whaling programme,” Helen Clark said.

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