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Company linked to whaling has 'good character'

22 September 2000

Company linked to whaling has 'good character'

The Green Party said the Government has set a dangerous precedent in declaring companies involved in whaling to be "of good character" under the 1996 Fisheries Act.

"This will seriously limit our ability to apply the "good character" test to other companies wanting exemption from our laws and will open the door for companies involved in unsustainable fishing practices to hold New Zealand quota," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Ceebay Holdings Limited have had their application to continue to hold New Zealand quota for several fish species approved by Finance Minister Michael Cullen and Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson. Ceebay is partly owned by the Maruha Corporation of Japan, which is involved in Japan's whaling programme.

"Most New Zealanders find Japan's whaling repugnant and would be appalled to learn that a company involved in the slaughter of whales has Government approval to fish our waters, especially in light of the Government's strong words on this issue," she said.

"This decision shows that New Zealand's opposition to whaling melts away when our market access is threatened. If the Government was not prepared to decline this application one has to ask exactly what action, if any, they are prepared to take in opposition to whaling."

Ms Fitzsimons said it was important to note that denying the application would not have denied Ceebay a right currently available to other overseas companies as Ceebay were actually applying for an exemption from new laws controlling ownership of fishing quota.

"Maruha has now been given preferred status over all other overseas companies," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said she was disappointed the Government appeared to have failed to follow up claims that Maruha were involved in the trade of illegally caught toothfish, with Pete Hodgson saying the allegations were "unproven".

Ms Fitzsimons said she had met with members of the Southern Ocean Coalition who had exhaustively researched the passage of toothfish from the boats through the landing ports through to the markets and said the evidence in the Coalition's reports looked convincing to her.

"New Zealand's credibility in opposing Japan's whaling programme has taken a serious setback with this decision," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 07 868 641, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 440 090


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