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Greens hope many pens will save the whales

Greens hope many pens will save the whales

The Green Party is hoping to prove that the pen is mightier than the harpoon, in launching a letter-writing campaign aimed at stopping Japan's plan to kill humpback and fin whales.

The Japanese government has proposed to the International Whaling Commission to extend its Jarpa 16 scientific whaling programme in the Ross Sea to humpback and fin whales, and increase the number of minke whales it slaughters each year from 440 to 850.

The Greens are urging all New Zealanders to put pen to paper and write to the Japanese Embassy in Wellington to express disgust at these plans to subject magnificent animals to a bloody, painful and prolonged death. In Australia, Green Senator Bob Brown has launched a similar letter-writing campaign.

"These endangered and beautiful mammals are already ending up on Japanese dinner tables under the guise of scientific research," Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said. "It's frightening to contemplate an increase in this deception," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"We must do everything we can to stop this plan in its tracks to protect the tiny number of these whales that remain," Ms Fitzsimons.

It is believed that this year the Japanese may have mustered up enough support within the 60 countries that are members of the IWC for its plans to proceed unhindered.

Commercial whaling was banned in 1986, but for the first time since then it is believed that, with the support that Japan has been able to gather, the pro-whaling side might outweigh the anti-whaling side. This year, the IWC is meeting in Uslan, South Korea and will hold its 57th annual meeting on June 20.

The New Zealand Green Party has joined forces with Senator Brown and the Australian Greens in a bid to stop Japan's plans to extend its whaling operation. The transtasman campaign will initially involve lobbying the New Zealand and Australian governments to use diplomatic and trade pressures to get Japan to back down, as well encouraging the public to write letters to the Japanese Government.

If those efforts are not successful, more direct action could be necessary. This could include a boycott of selected Japanese products both here and in Australia.

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