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New Zealand joins diplomatic protest on whaling

Media Statement
18 January 2006

New Zealand joins diplomatic protest on whaling


New Zealand has joined 16 other countries in urging Japan's government to stop killing whales in the Southern Ocean in the name of scientific research.

Two Brazil-led demarches in Tokyo have also asked Japan to recall its whaling fleet from the Southern Ocean.

Duty Minister Jim Anderton said New Zealand had joined with other countries to denounce the Japanese Whale Research Programme (JARPA II) which is expected to take up to 935 minke whales from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary this season.

"The New Zealand government is strongly opposed to Japan's 'scientific' whaling programme. There is no scientific justification to use lethal methods to provide information on whale populations.

"Whales are iconic mammals which New Zealanders value highly. Of particular concern are plans by Japan to expand its lethal research programme to include catching and killing endangered humpback and fin whales," Mr Anderton said.

The first demarche - or diplomatic representation - took place Monday with representatives of 16 governments meeting the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The second demarche to the Japanese Fisheries Agency takes place Tuesday.

Mr Anderton said New Zealand would continue to work for an end to whaling under the guise of scientific research.

"New Zealand has been at the forefront of international efforts to prevent whaling, working with other likeminded countries. I expect Conservation Minister Chris Carter will be attending the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission in St Kitts and Nevis in June where New Zealand will again work strongly to preserve the moratorium on commercial whaling and pursue all available channels to cease whaling activities altogether," Mr Anderton said.

The nations supporting the demarche are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

ENDS

Attached is a copy of the text of the demarche.


AIDE MEMOIRE

JOINT DEMARCHE BY ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, BRAZIL, FINLAND, FRANCE, GERMANY, IRELAND, ITALY, LUXEMBOURG, MEXICO, NEW ZEALAND, PORTUGAL, SPAIN, SWEDEN and THE UNITED KINGDOM

We, the Governments of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom present our compliments to the Government of Japan and wish to take this opportunity to inform the Government of Japan of our serious concerns about the implementation of the second Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPA II), which started on November 8, 2005.

We are deeply concerned that the Government of Japan intends to more than double the annual catch of minke whales, and to ultimately, include the catch of 50 fin whales and 50 humpback whales under JARPA II. We would like to remind the Government of Japan that fin and humpback whales remain classified as "endangered" and "vulnerable" respectively in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. We therefore have grave concerns that JARPA II will undermine the long-term viability of these species.

We deeply regret that more than 6,800 Antarctic minke whales have already been killed in Antarctic waters under the 18 years of JARPA compared with a total of 840 whales killed globally by Japan for scientific research in the 31 year period prior to the moratorium on commercial whaling.

While noting Japan's position that its JARPA programs are not inconsistent with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, we once again emphasise that it is unnecessary to use lethal means in order to obtain scientific information, equally good data can be secured in almost all cases by non-lethal techniques. We therefore consider that Japanese scientific whaling undermines international efforts to conserve and protect whales. For that reason, the International Whaling Commission has adopted several resolutions urging the Government of Japan to refrain from carrying out lethal scientific whaling.

In that sense, we recall the most recent Resolution 2005/1, adopted during the 57thAnnual Meeting of the IWC, which urges the Government of Japan to revise its JARPA II programme so that any information needed to meet scientific objectives be obtained using non-lethal means. We also refer to Resolution 2003/3 which affirms that no additional JARPA programs should be considered until the Scientific Committee has completed an in-depth review of the results of JARPA. Through the Buenos Aires Declaration, signed on the very same day the JARPA II fleet sailed, some Latin-American IWC and Southern Hemisphere Member States committed to promote South Atlantic and South Pacific Whale Sanctuaries and reaffirmed that Special Permit whaling should be terminated and scientific research limited to non-lethal methods.

Taking into consideration the environmental concern of the Government of Japan in several areas, we strongly urge Japan to join the international community, cease all its lethal scientific research on whales and assure the return of the vessels which are implementing JARPA II.


January, 2006.

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