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Legality of whaling should be tested - Greens

Legality of whaling should be tested - Greens

Japan's insistence that its whale slaughter in Antarctic waters is above board is a matter of opinion and should be up to an international body to decide - not a group of people with a vested interest, the Green Party says.

On Friday the Green Party listed a handful of suggestions for legal avenues that could be tested to try to stop Japanese scientific whaling.

Today, the Institute of Cetacean Research, the Japanese body behind the scientific whaling programme, has responded with an opinion that its whaling is legal.

"Of course they are going to say that, they have a lot at stake here," Green Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"The Green Party, and other environmental groups, believe there are numerous options open to the New Zealand Government to try some kind of legal move to stop the Japanese.

"The International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling clearly allows scientific whaling, but other agreements such as Cites and the 1959 Antarctic Treaty are more stringent and could be tested," she says.

For example, the Cites agreement, which lists whales as endangered, allows a country to issue itself permits to import endangered species from the sea, as long as they are satisfied that it is not primarily for commercial purposes [Article 5.par3.c]. However, if the convention secretariat believe this is being abused they can take action.

"Whale meat packaged for consumption being off-loaded from ships in Japan is clearly primarily for commercial purposes. We believe they are in breaching of this provision.

"The Antarctic Treaty allows for observers to inspect activities in Antarctica including on research ships. New Zealand should exercise this right.

"If New Zealand is serious about trying to stop the barbaric slaughter of these endangered creatures the actions of the Japanese should be tested under these agreements.

"Sitting back and relying on the Japanese to admit they are breaching international agreements is doing nothing to save these whales.

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