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NZ And Australia Welcome Whale Sanctuary Support

"New Zealand and Australia welcome French Polynesia's announcement it will turn its exclusive economic zone into a sanctuary for whales and other marine mammals," Conservation Minister Sandra Lee said today.

"French Polynesia has shown another course of action if we can't get protection for the great whales from the International Whaling Commission through a South Pacific whale sanctuary," Ms Lee said.

Ms Lee said New Zealand might have to consider how the French Polynesian initiative can be translated into a form suitable for adoption by other Pacific Island countries if the IWC stalls the creation of a whale sanctuary for the region.

The Conservation Minister has arrived in London to lead the New Zealand delegation to the IWC's decision-making annual Plenary Session from 23-27 July, where the joint New Zealand-Australia sanctuary proposal will be put again.

Ms Lee and Australia's Environment and Heritage Minister Senator Robert Hill first proposed the whale sanctuary at the IWC's annual meeting in Adelaide last year.

Eighteen nations supported the proposal last year while 11, including six small island states from the Caribbean, voted in opposition. The proposal was not adopted under the IWC's rules because it did not get 75% support of voting delegations.

The proposed South Pacific whale sanctuary stretches from Papua New Guinea in the west to Pitcairn Island and French Polynesia in the east, and from part of New Zealand in the south to the Equator.

Its southern boundary bisects the North Island of New Zealand at latitude 40 degrees south, through Wanganui, where the existing Southern Ocean sanctuary currently begins.

Ends


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