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Maori fisheries money must not fund whaling

18 January 2006

Maori fisheries money must not fund Japanese whaling

Te Ohu Kaimoana must guarantee New Zealanders that not one single cent of hard-won Maori fisheries money will be used to support or promote commercial whaling of any kind, the Green Party says.

Despite claims to oppose whaling, Maori fisheries body Te Ohu Kaimoana has previously hosted commercial whaling organisations and even prepared and presented papers on the economics and trade in whaling, Greens' Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"Such support of commercial exploitation of whales with Maori fisheries assets is unacceptable."

Te Ohu Kaimoana is the sole shareholder in Aotearoa Fisheries Limited (AFL), which owns a 50 percent shareholding in Sealord. The other half is owned by Japanese company Nissui, which is also a major shareholder in whaling fleets.

"Under the Maori Fisheries Act, Maori have virtually no means to direct the use of Maori fisheries resources. The recent call for a boycott of Sealord's products by Earth Island may be the only means by which Maori can voice their absolute opposition to whaling. Unless of course, AFL and Te Ohu Kaimoana do make every effort to oppose the current slaughter in the Southern Ocean.

"Maori fought hard to retain some control over their fisheries assets when their customary fishing rights were extinguished in exchange for commercial fishing quota in the 1992 settlement. That control was further eroded by the Maori Fisheries Act in 2004, when the majority of assets went to AFL, rather than distributed to the hapu.

"Now we see that AFL are in business with a company, Nissui, that also owns major commercial whaling operations. We urge AFL and Te Ohu Kaimoana to advise Nissui in no uncertain terms that they object to those operations, especially where they occur in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. AFL can't force Nissui to stop this activity, but it can support the position of New Zealanders that whaling in the Sanctuary is utterly unacceptable.

"And Te Ohu Kaimoana must ensure that not one part of their own activities provides any sort of practical or tacit support of commercial whaling," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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