The New Zealand Government’s sell-out at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) could effectively see a return to commercial whaling, says Greenpeace.
At a weekend meeting of the IWC in America, New Zealand supported a proposal that would allow Japan, Norway and Iceland to openly hunt whales.
Australia wants whaling to be phased out in five years but New Zealand is among those seeking a return to whaling.
Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas says that New Zealand should have no part in this deal and should be backing Australia’s stance to end commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean.
“John Key’s Government is undoing decades of conservation work by Kiwis to protect whales. If this proposal goes ahead we’ll be an embarrassment on the international stage.
“New Zealand’s support for this proposal goes against public opinion and the Government’s own position on this issue. By backing this proposal New Zealand could find itself supporting a return to commercial whaling and an endorsement to kill whales in areas that have been designated as international whale sanctuaries.
“Our national values are under increasing attack by John Key’s government. First mining in our national parks and now it’s supporting a return to whaling. What’s next on the list? Nuclear ships in our harbours?”
Thomas said the IWC should reject the proposal describing it as a dangerous throwback to the 20th century when whales where hunted to near extinction.
“We are at a critical junction for both whaling and ocean conservation. A return to commercial whaling would not only be a disaster for whales but will erode international ocean conservation efforts, making it vastly more difficult to protect other rapidly-declining species such as tuna and sharks.”
Japan’s whaling industry will come under close scrutiny this week as witnesses give evidence in the trial of two Greenpeace activists, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki. Known as the Tokyo Two, Junichi and Toru were arrested after they intercepted whale meat embezzled from the so-called “scientific research” programme while on its way to the black market. Over the next four days defence witnesses will include an industry insider supporting Greenpeace’s allegations, and crewmembers of the whaling fleet involved in the whale meat scandal.