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Greens launch Kaikoura save-the-whales petition

Greens launch Kaikoura save-the-whales petition

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is applauding a petition launched in Kaikoura last week opposing Japanese Government plans to expand its slaughter of whales, which will hurt the town's whale-watching industry.

The petition was launched by Green Kaikoura candidate Steffan Browning and already has close to 1200 signatures from people in Kaikoura.

The Japanese Government recently announced it planned to begin killing humpback and fin whales, and increase the number of minke whales it already kills. At a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in South Korea tomorrow, Japan is seeking to overturn a worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling.

"This is a wonderful community initiative that will send a strong message to the Japanese Government that its whaling plans will hurt our whale-watching industry and rob Kiwis and visitors to our country of the opportunity to see these wonderful, beautiful mammals in our oceans," Ms Fitzsimons said.

Mr Browning said the petition is part of a campaign among local Greens to harness community opposition to the Japanese whaling plans.

"Kaikoura is the community in New Zealand most directly impacted by the Japanese plans, and local residents are clearly opposed to them. The economic benefit of whale-watching is considerable to Kaikoura, and the community is very keen to safeguard them."

Japan's plans were a threat to the survival of beautiful, mammal species, Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Whales were once a common sight off New Zealand's coast, and tourists and locals are thrilled to see them. However, sightings of whales are becoming more and more rare. The numbers of whales has diminished from about 100,000 to only a few thousand, and this is a direct result of the whaling undertaken by only a handful of countries, including Japan."

Ms Fitzsimons said she was concerned that Japan was gaining power in the International Whaling Commission.

"Through vote-buying of smaller nations, Japan has managed to muster enough support in the International Whaling Commission to seriously threaten the worldwide ban on commercial whaling that has been in place since 1986."

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.

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