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Sanctuaries gain support but not enough

Sanctuariesgain support but not enough

Auckland, Wednesday, June 18, 2003: Vote-buying by the Government of Japan at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Berlin has once again frustrated attempts by the peoples of the South Pacific and the South Atlantic to establish whale sanctuaries in their regions.

This is the fourth year that the South Pacific Sanctuary has been proposed by Australia and New Zealand and the third year that the South Atlantic Sanctuary has been proposed by Brazil and Argentina.

“It is scandalous that these sanctuaries have been sabotaged by vote buying,“ says Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Rebecca Hayden.

“Both sanctuaries would protect the migratory corridors and breeding grounds of whale populations that have been depleted by commercial whaling and safeguard the growing whalewatching industries in those regions.“

The IWC ends on Thursday and issues of concern to

Greenpeace still to be discussed include:

* Small type whaling – Under this item, Japan has asked every year for 16 years for an ‘emergency’ quota of 50 minkes whales to meet the needs of four former whaling towns in Japan. The needs, if any, of these towns have now been met twice over. First by a change in domestic regulations which allows whales caught in nets to be processed on shore and marketed (now providing a catch of about 100 minke whales a year) and second by the allocation of a ‘research’ quota of 50 minke whales a year to the small type whaling vessels operating from these towns. Small type whalers operating out of these towns were actually catching minke whales up until May 20, less than a month before the start of the Berlin meeting. This year the Government of Japan has massively increased its request and is now asking for a quota of 150 minke whales and 150 of the much larger Brydes whales.

* Scientific permits – Japan’s so-called ‘scientific’ whaling and a similar hunt proposed by Iceland are expected to come under heavy criticism. A resolution aimed at curbing these abuses of science, proposed by Germany, will be vigorously opposed by the Government of Japan, its paid supporters and other pro-whaling countries.

* By-catch proposal – A resolution calling for measures to tackle the huge by-catch of small cetaceans will be proposed by 18 member countries. Among the sponsors are European fishing nations France and the UK, who themselves are responsible for large numbers of dolphins and porpoises dying in nets every year.

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