Shimonoseki, Japan/Auckland: Wednesday 22 May 2002: While the South Pacific and South Atlantic whale sanctuaries were defeated at today’s IWC meeting, the only Caribbean country with a whaling quota voted with its own voice, creating a break in the bloc of six eastern Caribbean states that usually votes with Japan.
“We applaud St Vincent and the Grenadines for speaking with their own voice and supporting the bid for the South Pacific and Atlantic Whale Sanctuaries by abstaining from the vote,” says Pio Manoa, Greenpeace Pacific Oceans Campaigner.
“St Vincent and the Grenadine have conducted themselves with pride and dignity on this vote,” says Manoa.
Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincents and the Grenadines usually vote in line with Japan on every issue.
The vote for the South Pacific proposal was 24 in support, 16 against and five abstentions. While still short of the three quarters majority needed to create a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary, it is a promising improvement on last year’s vote of 20 for, 13 against and four abstentions.
This year St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Oman, Morocco and Ireland abstained from the vote. Gabon voted for the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary, while voting against the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary.
Support for the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary is strengthening in the South Pacific with a number of countries declaring their own waters as national whale sanctuaries. Papua New Guinea is the latest to declare its interest in establishing a whale sanctuary in its EEZ, following the example of French Polynesia, the Cook Islands and Niue. Last year leaders from 14 countries confirmed their support for the sanctuary in a statement issued at the Pacific Island Forum meeting.
The outcome for the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary vote was 23 in support, 18 against with four abstentions. Last year’s vote was 19 in support, 13 against with five abstentions.
“While it’s inspiring to see support increasing it is sad that the Fisheries Agency of Japan’s votebuying is still succeeding in blocking whale sanctuaries,” says Milko Schvartzman, Greenpeace Argentina Oceans Campaigner
“Many Latin American nations are benefiting from whale watching ventures – the adoption of the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary would encourage these activities and secure the protection of whales into the future.”