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Minister condemns Iceland's "research whaling"

20 January 2002 Media Statement

Minister condemns Iceland's "research whaling"

Comments by Iceland's Prime Minister that his country wants to follow the Japanese and resume "research whaling" are infuriating, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

"Japan's scientific whaling programme is an outrage and the reported suggestion by Iceland's Prime Minister David Oddsson that Iceland may follow Japan's example is extremely disappointing."

"There is an international moratorium on commercial whaling because the impacts of past whaling activities have left most species of great whales endangered," Mr Carter said.

"Scientific whalers are exploiting a loophole in the moratorium to continue killing whales when perfectly adequate non-lethal methods exist to carry out whale research.

"New Zealand opposed Iceland's readmission to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) last year after it withdrew in 1992," Mr Carter said.

"Iceland wanted to be readmitted to the Commission with an objection to the moratorium on commercial whaling. That is despite the fact it did not object to the moratorium in 1982 when it was passed .

"Generally, New Zealand and Iceland see eye to eye on many marine issues but on whaling we are poles apart," Mr Carter said.

"When the moratorium on commercial whaling took effect in 1986, Iceland announced a three-year programme of scientific whaling, taking about 70 fin whales and 10-20 sei whales each year. Most of the prime meat from this exercise was exported to Japan."

Mr Carter said he was optimistic that New Zealand's new IWC Commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer would have a considerable impact on the protection of whales.

"Sir Geoffrey is an internationally recognised legal expert and has vast experience in negotiation. I will be attending the IWC's meeting this year with him in an effort to get further progress on issues like scientific whaling."

ENDS

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