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Major victory at IWC against the odds

Major victory at IWC against the odds

The International Whaling Commission has adopted the Berlin Initiative in what is a major victory for New Zealand and other conservation-minded countries, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

“This is a crucial moment for the IWC because it demonstrates once again that although pro-whaling nations are doing their best to distort the Commission’s membership, world opinion is still for whale protection and conservation,” Mr Carter said.

“When I arrived at the IWC meeting in Berlin yesterday, the chances of the Commission adopting the Berlin Initiative looked bleak, but thanks to a concerted effort by conservation-minded countries, in which New Zealand played a central role, we have carried the day against the odds.

“The Initiative was won by only five votes. It was adopted just one day before three new pro-whaling members are expected to join the Commission, potentially delivering the pro-whaling camp a simple majority on many future votes,” Mr Carter said.

“Pro-whaling nations did their best to delay the vote until the arrival of those new members, but by working together pro-conservation nations defeated them. The legal expertise of New Zealand’s Whaling Commissioner, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, was an invaluable asset.”

Mr Carter said the Berlin Initiative was immensely significant. Proposed by Mexico, it would help focus the IWC clearly on whale conservation through the establishment of a conservation committee and a trust fund to further whale preservation efforts around the world.

“Mexico deserves New Zealand’s warmest congratulations for leading the campaign for this initiative. Our cooperation on it is further evidence of the strong relationship between our two countries.”

Mr Carter said that the Commission also heard from Whale Watch Kaikoura Manager Wally Stone who outlined the huge economic, social and cultural importance of whale watching instead of whale killing.

New Zealand would now turn it attention to the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary, a joint proposal with Australia, Mr Carter said.

“We face a tough uphill battle on this because of the shift in the membership of IWC that will take place tomorrow, but our arguments are bolstered by the fact that almost every nation in the South Pacific shares our vision of a sanctuary.”

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