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PM- Whaling Concerns are Environmental

25 January 2000
Whaling concerns fuelled by decline in whale numbers

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that the New Zealand Government's concern about Japan's scientific whaling programme was based on environmental concerns about the serious decline in whale numbers.

Replying to criticism by a Japanese government minister, Helen Clark said that whale numbers were only around five per cent of what they were a hundred years ago.

"Because of widely held environmental concerns about the massive decline in whale numbers, a global moratorium on commercial whaling was agreed under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986. New Zealand is committed to maintaining that moratorium.

"Yet, in spite of this moratorium, over 440 whales were killed last year as part of Japan's whale scientific research programme. New Zealand is very concerned that Japan’s so-called research programme in the Southern Ocean is really commercial whaling in disguise.

"Whatever the research needs are, New Zealand has consistently argued against the use of lethal methods to secure information on whale stocks.

"I do agree with the Japanese Minister when he says that an acceptable solution to our differences should be sought through objective argument. We have a history of honest and frank dialogue in the IWC. I want that to continue with the New Zealand Government strongly pressing its support for a global whale sanctuary," Helen Clark said.

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