New Zealand to
ask tiny Palau to support South Pacific whale sanctuary
Friday, June 04, 2004
By Associated Press
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand wants the tiny Pacific
state of Palau to end its opposition to the creation of a whale
sanctuary in the South Pacific Ocean.
Foreign Minister Phil Goff said Thursday during a visit to the
Micronesian ministate that he was trying to persuade it to back
the sanctuary — or abstain from a vote on it.
New Zealand and Australia next month will propose to the
International Whaling Commission (IWC) for the fifth time that a
South Pacific whale sanctuary be created.
The proposal has so far failed to win the 75 percent of votes
needed to pass at annual IWC meetings.
Environmentalists claim pro-whaling Japan has bought the votes of
small nations with aid funds to thwart the sanctuary plan.
Palau, a western central Pacific nation of 20,000, is one of
several small states to have voted against the proposal.
The sanctuary would protect the breeding grounds of Southern
Hemisphere whale species such as blue, fin, sei, humpback,
southern right, pygmy right, minke, and sperm whales.
Whale feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica
already have been declared a sanctuary.
Japan, one of the world's largest consumers of whale meat, says it
is gathering data to build a case that whale numbers have
recovered enough to sustain limited commercial hunts.
"Palau has always been supportive of Japan's stance on both
whaling and fishing," the New Zealand Press Association
reported Goff saying as he arrived in the Palau capital, Koror.
"Palau has voted in favor of whaling in the past and we will
ask Palau to abstain from the coming vote on southern Pacific
whaling," he said.
Japan was still "very active" in signing up new
countries to support its stance at the IWC, Goff said.
The whaling commission, which banned commercial whaling in 1986,
is due to hold its annual meeting next month in Sorrento, Italy.
Goff is heading a New Zealand delegation on a weeklong visit to
the Pacific states of Palau, Marshall Islands, and Solomon
Source: Associated Press