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Dominica Held Ransom By Japan Over Whale Sanctuary


SANCTUARY VOTE: Environment Minister Resigns

Adelaide, Thursday 6 July 2000: Greenpeace confirmed today that the Dominican government was “held ransom” by Japan over its vote on the failed South Pacific Whale Sanctuary proposal at International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting this week in Adelaide, Australia.

The Dominican Minister of Environment, Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries, Atherton Martin, resigned immediately after Tuesday’s sanctuary vote at what he called this year’s “unfortunate IWC”, stating that he was “alarmed that the Japanese seem to be using the SAME promise of aid that held the James administration ransom, to manipulate this [Dominica] government’s voting at the IWC. This is undignified and unacceptable and must be resisted…there is absolutely no reason for us to be held ransom by Japan…in return for promises of aid.”

“The South Pacific sanctuary was only defeated because of the votes of six Caribbean countries opposing it and its clear that Dominica’s vote was manipulated by Japan. Japan’s vote buying has resulted in East Caribbean nations voting to deny the nations of the South Pacific a whale sanctuary in waters thousands of miles from the East Caribbean,” said John Frizell of Greenpeace International.

The whale sanctuary proposal had the backing of all South Pacific island nations and a majority of IWC member states but Japan used the votes of six East Caribbean nations, including Dominica, to block its adoption. Because a three quarters majority was needed for the proposal to be adopted, three votes in favour of the sanctuary were needed to every one vote against. As the sanctuary vote was close, the six votes of the East Caribbean nations were crucial to the proposal’s outcome.

Mona George Dill of the Dominica Conservation Association said: “It seems that Japan selected which Dominican delegates attended this IWC meeting, one of whom was dismissed by a previous government and had to resign under the current government but is at the IWC representing Dominica at the behest of Japan.”

National television in Dominica interviewed the former Dominican Prime Minister, the Honorable Edison James on 15 June, who admits that the Japanese are counting on Dominica’s support for whaling at the IWC in return for substantial capital projects in fisheries. Mr. James listed how some 30 million US dollars worth of fisheries aid from Japan is spent in Dominica.

“Never before in our history has it been known that Dominica was so manipulated by foreign interests. It’s humiliating attending this forum and seeing what happens in the name of Dominica. I would like to ask Japan to observe good international relations and stop manipulating small nations for its own interests,” added George Dill.

Notes to Editors:

Information available:
Transcripts of Atherton Martin’s statement and of The Honourable Edison James in interview on Dominican television are available on or on request from the Greenpeace press desk

For interviews with Atherton Martin and Mona George Dill are available on request from the Greenpeace press office

For further information contact { HYPERLINK } or call:
Matilda Bradshaw, Greenpeace International press in Adelaide on + 407 414 572/ + 31 6535 04701
Sarah Duthie, Greenpeace New Zealand on 025-927- 301

Background on Atherton Martin and Mona George Dill:

Atherton Martin:
Minister of Environment, Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries, Commonwealth of Dominica until 2pm Tuesday 4 July 2000
Past President of the Hotel and Tourism Association, Dominica
Past President, Dominica Conservation Association
1998 winner of the Goldman International Award for the Environment

Mona George Dill, Director, Springfield Environmental Centre, Dominica

NGO Delegate for Dominica to the COP11 meeting of the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species
Board Member, Dominica Conservation Association
President, East Caribbean Coalition for Environmental Awareness

EXCERPTS from Atherton Martin’s letter regarding his resignation as Minister of Planning, Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries for the Commonwealth of Dominica, dated July 4, 2000

“… today I submitted my resignation as Minister of Government to the Prime Minister…”

“… although the Cabinet decided that the best approach to Dominica’s participation at the 52nd IWC would be for our Commissioner to abstain on the voting…” (Dominica’s delegate voted with Japan against the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary proposal on Tuesday 4th July)

“ Also considered in my decision is the need to protect our international image as the Nature Island and the opportunities for support for an integrated plan for the sustainable development of Dominica.”

“Closely related to this is the fact that whale-watching is now one of the fastest growing segments of Dominica’s unique ecotourism experience and the need to maintain a consistency of position and promotion regarding the international nature travel community.”

… “ I am also alarmed that the Japanese seem to be using the SAME promise of aid that held the James Administration ransom, to manipulate this Government’s
voting at the IWC. This is undignified and unacceptable and must be resisted …There is absolutely no reason for us to be held ransom by Japan … in return for promises of aid.”

“I am convinced that we will show our resilience as a people and a country and come out of this unfortunate IWC episode much stronger as a nation with firm resolve for sustainable development.”


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