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Boost for South Pacific Whale Conservation


Boost for South Pacific Whale Conservation

Conservation Minister Chris Carter has welcomed new international measures aimed at providing better protection for whales.

Signatories to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), which is administered by the United Nations environment programme, decided last week to increase the level of protection for seven species of whales.

New Zealand joined the CMS in 2000 to support a regional agreement among southern hemisphere nations to protect albatrosses and petrels from the impacts of longline fishing operations.

The latest CMS meeting (held in Bonn, Germany) was the first attended by a New Zealand delegation.

Both Australia and New Zealand lobbied successfully for the addition of seven whale species to the list of animals protected under the Convention. The species added are fin, sei, sperm, minke, Bryde’s, pygmy right and killer whales.

Mr Carter said membership of the CMS has grown significantly in the past decade and the convention is now recognised as one of the most important global agreements for the protection of wildlife.

“It’s particularly useful for the conservation of whales as it allows regional conservation agreements with other countries, whether or not they belong to CMS. Given that many whale species undertake lengthy migrations which take them through the waters of several countries, CMS has the potential to be a valuable tool for cooperative arrangements.

“And unlike the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which deals only with the hunting of whales, agreements developed under the CMS can tackle a range of potential threats such as the risks to whale habitats, pollution, and oil exploration.”

Mr Carter says he looks forward to working closely with Australia and other South Pacific countries to develop a comprehensive agreement on whales, as well as developing regional guidelines on whale-watching and collaborative research programmes.

“New Zealand is at the forefront of innovative research techniques such as genetic identification and is internationally recognised as a leader in the effective management of whale-watching,” says Mr Carter.

“As part of our commitment to the recent decisions by CMS members, I’ll be encouraging our expert scientists and managers to share their expertise with our Pacific neighbours.”

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