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NZ works to reform Int'l Whaling Commission

3 March 2008 Media Release

NZ works to reform International Whaling Commission

Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick says New Zealand representatives will attend a special meeting being held in London this week to try to reform the way the International Whaling Commission (IWC) works.

“New Zealand has a leading role in work to explore ways to try to break the current stalemate between pro and anti whaling countries in the IWC.

“Roughly half of the 77 members of the IWC are against whaling, and half are for whaling. As a result, it is dysfunctional and its progress is limited. The future of the IWC relies on breaking this deadlock and urgently agreeing a new approach ahead of the annual meeting being attended by all countries in June in Chile.

“New Zealand is strongly opposed to Japan’s whaling in the Southern Ocean, and totally rejects that lethal whaling is needed for scientific research. We will continue to work through diplomatic and other channels to reaffirm our strong anti-whaling position and to urge Japan to end lethal scientific whaling.”

Steve Chadwick says it is very important to keep Japan at the IWC table, but it also needs to be reformed into an effective international body that can conserve whales.

New Zealand’s Whaling Commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer and officials from the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will attend this week’s meeting.

“It marks a crucial time for the IWC, which urgently needs to be modernised to work effectively. New Zealand must continue lobbying in this international forum to try to bring about change.”

Steve Chadwick is also urging restraint by both Japanese whaling vessels and protest boats currently operating in the Southern Ocean.

“We are deeply concerned about the risk to human life and to Antarctica’s pristine marine environment should either group encounter problems at sea. Activities like trying to board other vessels are extremely dangerous.

“Extremely cold and hazardous conditions in the Southern Ocean make it one of the most dangerous and difficult regions in the world for search and rescue operations.”

ENDS

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