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New Zealand welcomes news to protect whales

19 April, 2000

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hon Phil Goff, today welcomed the defeat of five proposals seeking to reduce the existing level of protection of whales at the meeting in Nairobi, Kenya of member countries of the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).

"The proposals were voted down by solid majorities, which I believe is evidence that world opinion continues to oppose a return to whaling", Phil Goff said.

"The international community has decisively rejected any movement that would allow for a possible resumption of international trade in whale products.

"It is particularly heartening that the proposals were defeated despite the concerted efforts of the pro-whaling lobby.

"Clearly in taking this decision the international community has acknowledged that commercial whaling is not sustainable. Whale numbers remain severely depleted after more than two centuries of exploitation. Whales are slow to breed and even more numerous species could be threatened by the renewal of commercial whaling.

"New Zealanders share with other nations a strong resistance to any return to the slaughter of species which are characterised by their intelligence and strong social structure.

"The decisions taken in Nairobi are also helpful because they acknowledge the authority of the International Whaling Commission as the global agency with responsibility for management of populations of great whales.

"New Zealand will now be working closely with Australia in the lead up to the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Adelaide in early July to promote the establishment of a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary. This is required to allow for the recovery of whale populations in the region."


ENDS



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