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South Pacific Whale Workshop, Apia, Samoa


The Minister of Conservation Hon Sandra Lee will lead the New Zealand delegation to ministerial talks this week (18-20 April local time), 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, and would be hosted jointly with the Samoan government. At least nine Conservation and Environment Minister from Forum Island Countries were expected to attend.

She hoped the Ministers would agree on how existing national and regional whale conservation initiatives could be linked with the sanctuary proposal, which New Zealand and Australia will put to the International Whaling Commission annual meeting in London later this year.

Ms Lee said Ministers would share 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.

"The New Zealand and Australian governments are investing considerable effort towards securing permanent protection of breeding areas for all the great whales in the region, through the establishment of the South Pacific whale sanctuary," Ms Lee said.

"It makes good sense to us that the great whales should be protected in their pacific breeding grounds as well as their Southern Ocean feeding grounds, where they are already covered by the South Ocean whale sanctuary."

In October last year, the New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon Helen Clark suggested to the Pacific Islands Forum that a meeting be convened to progress the sanctuary proposal, and to develop a strategy for its establishment. The outcome is the consultation meeting to be held in Apia this week.

Hon Sandra Lee MP, New Zealand Minister of Conservation will be in Apia with
„h Rt Hon Jim McLay, New Zealand commissioner to the IWC
„h Kevin Smith, Senior Conservation Adviser to the Minister of Conservation
„h Anaru Vercoe, Senior Policy Analyst, Te Puni Kokiri (the New Zealand Ministry of Maori Development)
„h Wilbur Dovey, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
„h John Larkindale, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
„h Mike Donoghue, New Zealand Department of Conservation scientific adviser

Media contact points:
Aggie Grey's Hotel Ph: (685) 22 880 Fax: (685) 23 626
for Hon Sandra Lee, Rt Hon Jim McLay, Kevin Smith, Anaru Vercoe

Kitano Tusitala Hotel Ph: (685) 21 122 Fax: (685) 23 652
(the conference venue)
for Wilbur Dovey, John Larkindale, Mike Donoghue

Kevin Smith/Anaru Vercoe Mobile: (685) 79 081
Rt Hon Jim McLay Mobile: (685) 79 082

New Zealand High Commission Ph: (685) 21 711 Fax: (685) 20 086
for Acting High Commissioner Craig Hawke; Rod Tyson, Nikki Reid

SPREP meeting itinerary for Hon Sandra Lee
(all times adjusted to NZ Standard Time)
Tuesday 17 April
10.05pm Arrive Faleolo International Airport (11.05pm Apia time)

Wednesday 18 April
6am Working breakfast followed by informal briefings/meetings (7am Apia)
9-10am Delegation pre-conference meetings (10-11am Apia)
10am-5pm Courtesy calls (11.am-6pm Apia)
5.30-7pm SPREP welcome function (6.30-8pm Apia)
7.30-10pm Informal networking dinner (8.30-11pm Apia)

Thursday 19 April
6am Working breakfast followed by informal briefings/meetings (7am Apia)
7.20am Arrive conference venue for first day of conference (8.20am Apia)
8.30am Speech to conference by Hon Sandra Lee (9.30am Apia)
11.30am-1pm Working lunch at Kitano Tusitala Hotel (12.30-2pm Apia)
5.35pm NGOs hold function at Kitano Tusitala to network with and brief FIC delegations on related issues (6.35pm Apia)
9.30pm Debrief of day's events (10.30pm Apia)
Friday 20 April
6am Working breakfast followed by informal briefings/meetings (7am Apia)
Ministerial field visit programme (Programme being arranged by SPREP)
6pm Attend formal ministerial dinner (7pm Apia)
9.30pm Debrief of day's events (10.30pm Apia)

Saturday 21 April
6am Working breakfast followed by informal briefings/meetings (7am Apia)
7.20am Arrive conference venue (8.20am Apia)
11.30am-1pm Working lunch at Kitano Tusitala Hotel (12.30-2pm Apia)
4pm Final plenary session expected to end around now (5pm Apia)
6pm Attend formal reception (tba) (7pm Apia)
9.30pm Debrief of day's events (10.30pm Apia)

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