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Slow recovery for some whale species, still far to

Hon Steve Chadwick
Minister of Conservation

12 August 2008 Media Release
Slow recovery for some whale species, still far to go

Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick today welcomed the news that some large whale species are slowly recovering, but warned that there is still a long way to go before these populations can be considered safe.

“The news that humpback and the southern right whales have stepped back from the brink of extinction is certainly good news, but this still does not mean that we have a healthy, viable population with anywhere near historic population numbers,” Steve Chadwick said.

Steve Chadwick was commenting following the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) review of the conservation status of cetaceans. The review found that some large whale species are now less threatened with extinction, and reclassified humpbacks and southern right whales as being at low risk of extinction.

“The IUCN found that this recovery was mainly due to these species being protected from commercial whaling, but this has been a slow recovery – it has been 30 years since the moratorium on commercial whaling began.

“While the improvement for humpback and southern right whales is positive, there is still a need to foster population recovery, and an international effort is needed. We must remember that although the international population is making a comeback, some Pacific groups of whales remain in a perilous state.

“It should also be noted that while some species are improving, the IUCN found that others have deteriorated and their classifications have been upgraded to endangered.”

Steve Chadwick also said that there is an urgent need to gather more data for species where it is currently not possible to evaluate their status.

“For more than half of cetacean species we are unable to definitively say whether particular populations are declining or increasing, and the reality for some species could be worse than we currently believe. This is an alarming state of affairs and international efforts must be made to determine the status of these populations.

“New Zealand has a long history promoting the conservation of whales and we will continue to do so.”


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