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Intervention By New Zealand Whalewatching

Intervention By New Zealand Whalewatching

Statement by Steve Chadwick - Minister of Conservation:

New Zealand has always been a strong supporter of the work of the Commission and the Scientific Committee on whalewatching. Like many other members of the IWC, for over a century New Zealand was a country that practiced commercial whaling. Over the past twenty years, however, there has been a steady growth in the economic benefit provided by whale and dolphin watching.

Nowhere has this been more apparent than in Kaikoura, where the local tangata whenua have developed a sustainably-managed whalewatching industry, that now hosts over 60,000 people annually to view sperm whales and has transformed both the town and the local economy.

Although Kaikoura is undoubtedly New Zealand’s premier whalewatch destination, there are now many other cetacean watching enterprises in both the North and South Island, generating over NZ$120 million in tourist revenues.

It is essential that whalewatching is managed in a sustainable manner. I am pleased to note that the Scientific Committee this year commended one of the tour operators in Kaikoura, for their collection of a long-term data set from which useful biological information can be extracted.

I welcome this as part of a global trend towards the use of whalewatching vessels as platforms for the collection of data useful to the IWC.

The work of the IWC on whalewatching is not only of relevance to Contracting Governments.

In our region, for example, there has been a spectacular growth in the number of tourists wishing to see whales in the wild, generating valuable revenues for several developing island nations.

The research and advice on whalewatching that is provided by this Commission is extremely valuable to countries who are not members of the IWC and to the Inter-Governmental Organisations who provide them with advice on environmental matters.

New Zealand looks forward to a continuation of the IWC’s work on whalewatching as an illustration of the positive co-operation that can exist between members.


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