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New Zealand holds its ground on whale sanctuary

New Zealand holds its ground on whale sanctuary

New Zealand has maintained support for the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) despite stronger pro-whaling membership, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

“We won 24 votes to 17 in favour of the Sanctuary at the IWC meeting in Berlin today, the same number in support as last year. Although this is not enough to get the sanctuary adopted, it is a considerable achievement because the pro-whaling camp at the Commission has since been bolstered by two new members, Iceland and Nicaragua,” Mr Carter said.

“Twenty of the world’s nations agreed to co-sponsor the Sanctuary, six more than did last year. This is a reflection of the fact that there are robust scientific reasons for establishing the sanctuary and almost unanimous support for it in the South Pacific.”

Mr Carter said that in the past two years seven more South Pacific nations had declared their exclusive economic zones to be whale sanctuaries, or signalled their intention to do so.

“This kind of support for conservation among nations actually located within the proposed sanctuary is hard to ignore, but unfortunately pro-whaling nations are determined to do so.

“It is a tragedy that in the context of the IWC these days standing still is a considerable achievement. That fact should be a clarion call to everyone in the world who cares about whale conservation,” Mr Carter said.

“My hope is that the Berlin Initiative and its focus on conservation will provide the IWC with more information on the need for a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary, and that rejection of it by pro-whaling nations will become simply impossible to justify.”

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