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Whaling Commission remains on knife edge

Whaling Commission remains on knife edge

Nations supporting whale conservation at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) have won the first two major votes at its annual meeting in St Kitts and Nevis, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

The votes were both initiated by Japan. The first sought to strike consideration of small cetaceans, such as pilot whales, off the agenda of the IWC, and the second sought to introduce secret ballots. Both were lost, the first by two votes and the second by three votes.

"These votes were the first major test of numbers at this meeting and winning them is a very positive start," Mr Carter said.

"At this stage it appears the pro-whaling group cannot muster a consistent majority despite the arrival of two new pro-whaling countries Cambodia and the Marshall Islands.

"However, we cannot guarantee the situation will not change. Since the first two votes, Togo, pro-whaling ally, has paid its overdue membership fees and is now eligible to vote in the meeting.

"This has thinned the conservation majority to as little as one. Furthermore, a couple of other important pro-whaling allies, Senegal and Gambia, have not yet arrived but may do so in the next 24 hours," Mr Carter said.

"New Zealand will be watching activity within the Commission closely and will continue an intensive lobbying campaign to try to retain the conservation majority. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees," Mr Carter said.

Media contact: Nick Maling, Press Secretary, phone +1869 466 1200, room 337 or text messages to 021 890-170.

Saint Kitts and Nevis is 16 hours behind New Zealand standard time.

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