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NZ Can Help Find Compromise to Whaling Debate

MEDIA RELEASE
17 March 2008

New Zealand Can Help Find Compromise to Whaling Debate

Te Ohu Kaimoana, the Maori Fisheries Trust, is urging the New Zealand Government to find a compromise solution to the whaling debate before the International Whaling Commission collapses.

Chief Executive Peter Douglas, speaking on his return from London where he and Te Ohu Kaimoana Director Ngahiwi Tomoana attended the Intersessional Meeting on the Future of the IWC, said it was important that New Zealand uses its influence and leadership at the Whaling Commission to broker an agreement that keeps the IWC intact.

“The Whaling Commission is at a point where it could collapse, because it is at an impasse and this is not acceptable to participating countries. Opposing sides need to demonstrate compromises for the IWC to last into the future,” Mr Douglas said. “It’s a choice the international community needs to make.

“The positions taken by many parties has polarised the debate and put the future of the IWC in jeopardy. This serves neither the interests of whale conservation or management,” Mr Douglas said.

“Te Ohu Kaimoana agrees with Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick that, in the interests of conservation and management, all efforts must be made to keep Japan at the negotiating table. The IWC has a future, but it is one that will involve compromise by all parties involved, including New Zealand and Japan,” Mr Douglas said. “The only alternative will be an IWC shot quickly into oblivion, and that serves no conservation or management purposes at all.”

A major impediment to resolving the problems is that only about half a dozen of the Whaling Commission’s 78 members are actively engaged in hunting whales. Japan, with New Zealand and other members of the IWC, has contributed to the development of a robust management regime, but this has not been completed. There’s been little to no incentive for non-whaling countries to agree to implement any management regime for whale hunting and this has led Iceland and Norway to conduct whaling outside of IWC control.

Increased pressure in recent years against Japan’s special permit research whaling (allowed under the Convention) while Iceland and Norway receive little condemnation for their commercial whaling activities has seen Japan question its continued involvement in the Whaling Commission.

BACKGROUND: At Hui-a-Iwi in 1997 and 1999, Te Ohu Kaimoana was mandated to monitor local and international developments that affect or impact on the customary and traditional rights of hapu and iwi as they apply to the management and sustainable utilisation of marine mammals.

Representatives of Te Ohu Kaimoana has attended the International Whaling Commission meetings in 2006 in St Kitts and Nevis; 2007 in Anchorage, Alaska, USA, and the Intersessional Meeting at Heathrow, London, United Kingdom.

ENDS

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