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NZ Would Welcome Cook Is. Moves To Protect Whales

14 August 2001 (NZ time) Media Statement
New Zealand Would Welcome Cook Islands Moves To Protect Whales


New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark and Conservation Minister Sandra Lee said in Wellington today they would welcome any consideration by the Cook Islands to give legal protection to whales within the Cook's exclusive economic zone.

"As Pacific Island countries, we need to look at the alternatives open to us to ensure the protection of the whales that come into the South Pacific to breed from their feeding grounds to the south in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary" said Ms Lee. "New Zealand encourages Pacific Island countries to consider the benefits of declaring their exclusive economic zones whale sanctuaries to help ensure the great whales remain a living part of South Pacific marine ecosystems."

Sandra Lee said she was very grateful for the strong support from the Cook Islands for the bid to create a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.

"The Cook Islands made an important and influential contribution to the whale conservation meeting held in Apia, Samoa, earlier this year. That meeting gave New Zealand and Australia a mandate to advance the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary at the IWC meeting held in London last month," Ms Lee said.

"It is clear that the affection New Zealanders have for living whales is also shared by the people of the Cook Islands."

The future of the South Pacific lies not in the killing of marine mammals but in protecting them as a living part of the natural inheritance we pass on to our children. By protecting the great whales and by ensuring the health of our marine ecosystems generally, we will reap benefits through nature tourism.
"In a world that is increasingly degraded and polluted, we can create a haven for nature and people in the South Pacific by putting conservation and environmental protection top of our agenda."

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that she would be encouraging Pacific island countries at this weeks Pacific Island Forum to consider declaring their exclusive economic zones as whale sanctuaries.

Ms Lee said that French Polynesia had already stated their intent to give whales legal protection within their waters.

"By working together we can extend the protection of whales across much of the South Pacific through our EEZs."

Ends

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