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Pacific makes progress on South Pacific Whales

Pacific Islands make progress on South Pacific Whale Sanctuary

despite pressure

Samoa/Auckland, April 22, 2001: Greenpeace applauds the decision of Pacific Islands’ environment ministers and officials to support the progress of the proposed South Pacific Whale Sanctuary at a meeting in Samoa this weekend.

A Forum and workshop organised by the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme has ended with countries supporting the proposed sanctuary, despite pressure from Japan.

Member of Parliament from the Kingdom of Tonga, Honourable Samiu K. Vaipulu, told the meeting that he had received visits from Japanese delegations to talk about “whaling and Japanese grants to Tonga”.

“I refused to discuss grants in the context of whaling because the two are totally separate,” Mr Vaipulu said. “Sometimes donor countries try to tell us what to do and it is time for us to tell them we can do it ourselves in the South Pacific.”

Greenpeace Pacific campaigner, Lata Yaqona says, “other members of the International Whaling Commission should take heed of the views of the Pacific Island range states who want to establish a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary. It is clear the region has a lot to gain and nothing to lose from a sanctuary.”

Evidence presented to the meeting dismissed myths circulated by Japanese representatives that whales are in competition with fisheries. The forum acknowledged the lack of significant scientific evidence in the Pacific Islands region to support claims that whales are competing for commercial fish stocks.

The meeting was also attended by non-governmental organisations and whale watching operators from Tonga, Australia and New Zealand who discussed whale watching as a growing and viable industry within the region.

“Whales and marine life have become a focal point for tourism in Tonga today,” said Tongan delegate Samiu Vaipulu. “The more whales we have in our region the better the future for our children.”

For interviews contact Lata Yaqona in Apia, Samoa on 685 74133 or 685 21122
Tongan delegate, Honourable Samiu Veipulu is available for interviews
on 685 74133 or contact Sarah Duthie on +61 401 772 556

ENDS

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