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New Zealand fighting for whale sanctuary at IWC

New Zealand fighting for whale sanctuary at IWC

New Zealand’s delegation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) leaves tomorrow to continue the fight for a whale sanctuary stretching across the South Pacific.

Led by Conservation Minister Chris Carter, the delegation includes new IWC Commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer, and hopes to increase support for the sanctuary that would protect the breeding and feeding grounds of eleven great whale species.

“The scientific justification for a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary remains as strong as ever – the breeding populations of great whales in the region are for the most part extremely depleted,” Mr Carter said.

“There are now nine Pacific nations who have declared their exclusive economic zones to be whale sanctuaries or announced their intention to do so. That means there is a clear and explicit view in the South Pacific that whales are worthy of protection and it is about time the IWC recognised that.

“New Zealand won 60 per cent support for the sanctuary at the last IWC meeting. It needs 75 per cent to get the sanctuary in place. We will be striving to lift that support significantly at this meeting,” Mr Carter said.

New Zealand will also be participating in two other major initiatives at the IWC in Berlin. It will be supporting a German effort to ban scientific whaling, and it will be co-sponsoring the Berlin Initiative put forward by Mexico.

The Berlin Initiative would see the creation of a Conservation Committee at the IWC to explore the benefits of whale sanctuaries, and whale friendly industries such as whale watching. It would also establish a trust fund to support whale conservation.

The plenary of the IWC starts on June 16.

Mr Carter will also be the Government’s representative at the launch of New Zealand’s exhibit at the Venice Biennale, the oldest, most prestigious contemporary arts event in the world, attended by about sixty countries.

New Zealand’s exhibit is by one of the country's foremost international artists, Michael Stevenson. Titled ‘This Is The Trekka’, it centres on the Trekka, New Zealand's only homegrown production automobile, made in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The installation also includes the Moniac, a seven foot high hydraulic model of the economy created by New Zealand economist Dr Bill Phillips in 1949.

"The Venice Biennale is a fantastic opportunity to promote New Zealand's art and artists. It attracts huge crowds of international opinion makers and is as important to the New Zealand art community as the Sydney Fashion Week is for New Zealand fashion designers," Mr Carter said.

On June 19, Mr Carter has been invited to speak at Westminster in London. His speech will outline the history of conservation in New Zealand, recent progress in the struggle with species extinction and the Government's plans for conservation in the future. The speech will be made available to media both in London and New Zealand.

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