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Caribbean support for whale sanctuary welcomed

27 April 2001 Media Statement
Caribbean support for South Pacific whale sanctuary welcomed


Conservation Minster Hon Sandra Lee has welcomed support from Caribbean countries for a South Pacific whale sanctuary.

Ms Lee says residents of the six Caribbean countries that are members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) were asked whether or not their countries should support the establishment of a whale sanctuary.

She says results from the Greenpeace-sponsored MORI poll showed over half (54%) of the public across the six countries support the sanctuary, and only 13% oppose it.

"It is heartening to see growing international support to protect whale populations in the Pacific," Ms Lee said, "especially so soon after the sanctuary proposal was given full support by Pacific Island Forum ministers at a summit in Apia, held 18-20 April."

Ms Lee said whaling nations could no longer ignore the growing international opposition.

At last year's IWC meeting in Adelaide, all of the Caribbean countries surveyed in this poll voted against the creation of a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary when it was formally proposed then for the first time jointly by New Zealand and Australia.

“That attitude was a direct challenge to the wishes of the South Pacific states and, in light of the poll, it seems, against the wishes of their own people,” she said.

“The Apia Statement which resulted from the recent ministerial meeting is a clear and unequivocal expression of the unanimous desire of Pacific Island countries for a whale sanctuary. I trust that Caribbean leaders will take note of both. The Apia Statement and the poll results show a growing momentum towards permanent protection for the South Pacific breeding grounds of the great whales.”

“Nearly 200 years ago, ships came from all over the world to plunder the whales and other marine mammals of the South Pacific," said Ms Lee.
"The slaughter grew to an immense scale as advances in technology allowed the whalers to venture further into the Southern Ocean and stay at sea for increasingly long periods of time. That industry only ceased in New Zealand in 1964 and it will take a long time for populations to recover,” she said.

This year's IWC meeting, to be held in London in July, will again vote on a proposal for a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary put up by Ms Lee and her Australian counterpart.

Ms Lee said there would be significant pressure on the Caribbean nations not to block the establishment of a sanctuary in the South Pacific.

ENDS

GREENPEACE NEWS RELEASE
CARIBBEAN SUPPORT FOR SOUTH PACIFIC WHALE SANCTUARY

Auckland, 27th April 2001 - A week after Pacific Island countries declared their unanimous support for the proposed South Pacific Whale Sanctuary, a new poll (1) shows Eastern Caribbean people also support the proposed Sanctuary by a margin of four to one.

The poll result flies in the face of Caribbean government votes against the South Pacific sanctuary at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Adelaide last year.

People living in the six Caribbean members of the IWC were asked whether or not their countries should support the establishment of a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary. The MORI poll found over half (54%) support the Sanctuary, and only 13% oppose it (2).

Last year the IWC failed to support the Sanctuary proposal, largely because Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent & the Grenadines voted against it.

Greenpeace oceans campaigner, Bianca Havas says " Pacific Island countries are committed to this sanctuary. This recent survey clearly shows that Caribbean people also support it. It’s now up to the Caribbean governments to act and not bow to the power of the Japanese aid dollar. Caribbean island states need to co-operate with the Pacific Islands as they co-operate on other issues.”

The MORI poll results come as Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise begins a three week tour of the Eastern Caribbean to promote Caribbean involvement in a South Pacific whale sanctuary. Greenpeace campaigners from the South Pacific, Japan and elsewhere will ask the Caribbean public and governments to support Pacific Island wishes for a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.

In July 2001, the IWC will again vote on the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary proposal. Both the South Pacific and the East Caribbean states are under intense pressure from Japan to prevent the sanctuary. New evidence of Japanese vote buying at the IWC -through aid donation - emerged last week.

Tongan MP Samiu K. Vaipulu, has recently told a Regional Forum on a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary (3) that he had refused to discuss “whaling and Japanese grants to Tonga” with a Japanese delegation that visited the Kingdom last year.

“I refused to discuss grants in the context of whaling because the two are totally separate,” Mr Vaipulu said. “Sometimes donor countries try to tell us what to do and it is time for us to tell them we can do it ourselves in the South Pacific.”

Contact – Oceans Campaigner Sarah Duthie, 025 927 301 or Media Officer Samantha Magick, +61 413 740 450. For Pacific oceans campaigner Lata Yaqona aboard the Arctic Sunrise - contact Samantha Magick. Visit: www.greenpeace.org

Notes to Editors
(1) The report contains the findings of a survey conducted by MORI (Market & Opinion Research International) on behalf of Greenpeace between February and March 2001. The survey was carried out in six counties to ascertain the views on environmental issues. Interviews were conducted by face-to-face omnibus between 19 February and 30 March among six Eastern Caribbean nations: Antigua (527 interviews), Dominica (501 interviews), Grenada (503 interviews), St Kitts (500 interviews), St Lucia (505 interviews), and St Vincent (505 interviews). Any survey, which is not conducted amongst the total population but amongst a sample drawn from the total population, is open to certain sampling tolerances. Based on a 95% confidence level, the margin of error for each country’s survey is about +/-4.5 percent. For further details, see www.mori.com.

(2) There was massive support of levels of eight to one in Antigua (47% for, 7% against) and
St Kitts & Nevis (60% to 7%); seven to one in Dominica (66% to 9%), four to one in Grenada (53% to 14%), and three to one in St Lucia (47% to 15%), that their countries should support the SPWS. Even in St Vincent, a country with whaling traditions, those supporting the vote
on the establishment of the SPWS, outnumbered those opposing it in a ratio of 2 to 1 (51% compared to 26%).

(3) The 16 countries at the Regional Forum for a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary last week were American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Tonga, and Wallis and Futuna.


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