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NZ opposing Iceland’s attempt to avoid whaling ban

24 April 2003 Media Statement

NZ opposing Iceland’s attempt
to avoid commercial whaling ban

New Zealand has officially opposed Iceland’s attempt to avoid the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) commercial whaling ban, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Phil Goff and Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

Iceland withdrew from the IWC in 1992 but sought to rejoin last year with a reservation to the Convention's commercial whaling ban.

"This could mean Iceland wishes to have the option to commence commercial whaling while part of the IWC," the ministers said.

“New Zealand strongly opposes Iceland’s reservation, and we have now formally notified the IWC of this. Our legal advice is that the reservation is prohibited under the IWC’s founding treaty, and fails to meet the international law requirement that reservations must be compatible with a treaty’s objectives.

"By entering this reservation, Iceland has also improperly attempted to bypass procedures for amending the whaling ban."

The ministers said a number of other countries had joined New Zealand in opposing Iceland’s attempt to enter a reservation and there were more to come.

“The Government strongly supports the current moratorium on commercial whaling. Most great whale populations remain fragile after being exploited almost to extinction by commercial whalers from many industrialised countries, including New Zealand," the ministers said.

"Whales have come to symbolise the excesses of unrestrained exploitation, and their potential recovery is widely seen as a signal of whether conservation will be applied for the benefit of future generations.

“Accordingly, signs that Iceland might commence commercial whaling as early as 2006, and so-called ‘scientific whaling’ even earlier, are of deep concern to New Zealand."

“New Zealand and Iceland cooperate on many issues – climate change and global fish conservation in particular," the ministers said.

“While acknowledging our significant differences on conservation of whales we continue to work closely in these areas."


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