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NZ denounces Iceland's plans for whale slaughter

NZ denounces Iceland's plans for whale slaughter

Iceland's decision to start-up a "scientific" whaling programme is of deep concern, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Phil Goff and Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

Iceland’s Ministry of Fisheries announced yesterday that Iceland plans to hunt 38 minke whales for “scientific purposes” beginning this month.

“This is a disingenuous. There is no justification for any country to carry out a lethal whaling programme in the interests of science when modern non-lethal research techniques can generate all the information required by the International Whaling Commission's Scientific Committee,” New Zealand's ministers said.

“We strongly urge the Iceland Government to reconsider,” the ministers said.

“I attended the Berlin IWC meeting in June and Iceland's proposal for "scientific" whaling was strongly criticised by members of the Scientific Committee for the absence of any credible scientific rationale,” added Conservation Minister Chris Carter.

Iceland withdrew from the IWC in 1992 but sought to rejoin last year, at the same time entering a reservation to the commercial whaling ban, which could mean it wishes to have the option to commence whaling. Iceland has said it might commence commercial whaling as early as 2006.

New Zealand, joined by many other countries, has officially challenged Iceland’s attempt to avoid the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) commercial whaling ban. The New Zealand Government thinks Iceland’s reservation is unlawful and prohibited by international law and has said so in a formal notification.

“We are worried that Iceland’s so-called “scientific” whaling programme is a pre-cursor to the resumption of commercial whaling and that they will follow Japan's lead and sell the products of the hunt on the commercial market,” ministers said.

“The Government strongly supports the current moratorium banning whaling. We seek the absolute protection of whales, other than for aboriginal subsistence whaling by indigenous communities whose requests meet the IWC’s criteria.

“New Zealand and Iceland cooperate on many issues - climate change and global fish conservation in particular. It is in this context that New Zealand strongly urges Iceland to reconsider and not carry through its intention to go "scientific" whaling.”

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