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Japan And Caribbean Bloc Vote To Block Quota

23 May 2002
Japan And Caribbean Bloc Vote To Block Whale Meat Quota For Indigenous Peoples

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee says she's "astounded" that Japan and its pro-whaling supporters from the Caribbean voted today at the International Whaling Commission annual meeting to block a quota for bowhead whales, to meet the subsistence needs of the indigenous peoples of Alaska and Siberia.

Ms Lee said, in a statement from the IWC meeting at Shimonoseki in Japan, that New Zealand voted in favour of the resolution, which was passed by 30 votes to 16, but it failed to reach the required three-quarters majority.

She said pro-whaling nations Norway, Russia and Denmark voted with New Zealand in favour of granting the indigenous quota.

"Many IWC countries expressed their distress and concern at the double standard that was applied in this vote,” Ms Lee said.

“The Inuit native peoples of Alaska and the indigenous peoples of Chukotka have a long and well-established history of reliance on the whale resources of their region. New Zealand has consistently supported the allocation of their quota, which meets all the IWC’s aboriginal-subsistence criteria.”

“New Zealand, along with many other countries including several who support whaling, is very concerned that the protein needs of the indigenous peoples of Siberia and Alaska have been put in jeopardy as a result of them being used strategically as political footballs.

"They have been held hostage for political agendas at the IWC that have nothing to do with the aboriginal quota agenda item.

“Some of these indigenous peoples are living under climatic and economic conditions that we cannot imagine. They genuinely depend on a subsistence take to survive.

“I do not believe that countries like the Solomon Islands and Mongolia realised the seriousness of the impact that their votes would have on the lives of these communities when they voted the Japanese line on this issue,” Ms Lee said.

Ends

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