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Regional Talks On South Pacific Whale Sanctuary

Conservation Minister To Lead NZ Delegation To Regional Talks On South Pacific Whale Sanctuary


The Minister of Conservation Hon Sandra Lee will lead the New Zealand delegation to ministerial talks next month (18-20 April), in Apia, on progressing a joint proposal with Australia for a South Pacific whale sanctuary.

"New Zealand is committed to full consultation with other Forum Island Countries who are likely to be affected by the whale sanctuary proposal," she said.

Ms Lee said the ministerial talks, in Samoa's capital, had been convened by the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, SPREP. She hoped the Ministers would agree on how existing national and regional whale conservation initiatives can be linked with the sanctuary proposal, which she will put when the International Whaling Commission meets in London later this year.

"It is highly appropriate that during this week, Sea Week, the government should announce the next steps in its international campaign to protect these unique mammals of the deep," she said. "Sea Week is an annual week-long celebration of our marine biodiversity, and whales are an icon of that ocean environment."

Ms Lee said she would be sharing with her regional counterparts the latest scientific information supporting the need for a sanctuary as well as data on the economic benefits of whale watching activities, as an alternative to whale hunting. She said 87-countries now operated whale watching enterprises, and their global earnings topped $2-billion a year.

The proposed South Pacific whale sanctuary will stretch 12 million square kilometres across the South Pacific, over a region inhabited by more than half a dozen great whale species.

Ms Lee will mark Sea Week by announcing the recipients of grants from the Whale and Dolphin Adoption Project at a function at the Auckland Museum this evening (7.30pm in the Apec Room—entry through the Auckland Museum East Door).

Ends

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