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Five Pacific Island Nations Fail Whales

Five Pacific Island Nations Fail Whales

Suva, Fiji Islands Tuesday, June 5, 2007. Five Pacific Island countries have not only let whales down but also refused to help preserve a big part of the Pacific Islands’ regional culture at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Alaska.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans Team Leader Nilesh Goundar said Kiribati, Nauru, Republic of Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Palau voted against a resolution on a South Atlantic Whales Sanctuary supported by most of the Latin American countries on the IWC.

The five Pacific countries also teamed up with Japan and did not participate on New Zealand's proposal to close the scientific whaling loophole called JARPA2(1).

The third vote against whale conservation was on a resolution on the non-lethal use of cetaceans. Palau, Tuvalu, Nauru, and Republic of Marshall Islands again followed the lead of Japan by "not participating" and Kiribati was absent during this vote.

On the fourth vote Palau, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru all voted for a proposal put forward by Denmark/Greenland for their quota on subsistence whaling while Marshall Islands was absent.

The IWC currently provides for countries to apply for hunting of whales based on cultural and nutritional needs only.
“Greenpeace recognises the right of indigenous peoples to harvest traditional foods if it is part of their ancient customs and is needed for their subsistence , as in the case of Innuit peoples of North America,” said Mr Goundar. “However, Greenpeace reserves the right to oppose any hunt if it threatens the recovery and survival of the whale population.”

The fifth and final vote was on a resolution to ensure whales remain protected from hunting under the CITES convention on international trade in endangered species All five Pacific Island members again followed Japan's lead and “did not participate”.
"The majority vote by 37-4 in favour of the CITES resolution effectively overturns the St Kitts Declaration from last year’s IWC. It reconfirms that the moratorium on commercial whaling is as valid today as it was when it was first enacted twenty years go,” said Mr Goundar.

Mr Goundar said the five Pacific Island countries had spent four days discussing the 1,000+ whales that will be commercially and `scientifically' hunted yet have failed not only whales but their people as well.
“They have failed the Pacific Islands miserably as a WWF poll carried out in Palau, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati showed a majority of people were unaware of the IWC, but many were against their country voting for a return to commercial whaling than were for it, and if their country had voted for a return in the past, they think that it should not have done so,”he said.

The poll included questions on: awareness of the IWC; whether countries should vote for or against a return to commercial whaling; and support for past votes that called for a return to commercial whaling.

Mr Goundar said the five PIC's despite their actions still have a chance to redeem themselves by becoming champions in saving tuna - the principal resource which is critically endangered.

“The Pacific Ocean is not what divides Pacific Islanders but instead what unites them, and the Pacific Islands bloc needs to stand together now more than ever,” he said.

The IWC meeting ran from May 28 - 31 with more than 70 nations in attendance.

1.JARPA2 is the Japanese scientific whaling programme which targets more than 800 minke whales and for the first time includes 50 humpback and 50 fin whales this year.
2.CITIES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.


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