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PM supports diplomatic solution to whaling issue

Prime Minister John Key says killing whales is akin to murder but he is supportive of reaching an agreement to allow some whaling if it reduces the numbers taken.International Whaling Commission nations met recently to talk about a proposal to allow Japan

NZPA
Mon, 22 Mar 2010

Prime Minister John Key says killing whales is akin to murder but he is supportive of reaching an agreement to allow some whaling if it reduces the numbers taken.

International Whaling Commission nations met recently to talk about a proposal to allow Japan, Norway and Iceland to openly hunt whales despite a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, but aim to reduce the total catch over the next 10 years. Japan currently uses a loophole to kill whales saying it is for scientific research while the other countries are not bound by the moratorium as they did not agree to it.

Australia has ruled out backing the compromise saying all whaling in the Southern Ocean should be phased out within five years, but New Zealand is open to it.

The status quo was not working, Mr Key said today.

"The first port of call has to be to try find a diplomatic solution that works both in the short term, and hopefully, over the long terms sees the elimination of whaling," he told Radio Live.

"No one wants to see whales killed. I mean there's the horrible sight of what equates to murder really when you see a mammal the size of a whale being killed."

However, phasing out over time may be the only way forward.

"If we can't get a blanket complete stop, then a phasing out so there's an eventual end to whaling is important."

Australia had campaigned domestically on the issue so was taking a strong position.

"But we are all keen to see progress. It's just a matter of how. I might add that the Americans who feel very passionately about this issue as well are very much in lockstep with New Zealand."

Mr Key said he agreed with Whaling Commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer who yesterday told TVNZ that taking a case to the International Court of Justice could take years and would be counterproductive if anti-whaling countries lost.

Australia has threatened to go the ICJ if by the end of the year diplomatic measures fail to stop Japan whaling in the Southern Ocean fail.

The next IWC meeting is in Morocco in June.

Japan, Norway and Iceland issue permits allowing them to catch about 3000 whales a year and about 1600 are killed commercially. However, Sir Geoffrey said the yearly kill figure was 13,500 before the moratorium.

Sir Geoffrey said the IWC was dysfunctional and if no agreement could be reached it would collapse.

If the proposal was agreed to, it would not lift the moratorium but would qualify it to allow a set number of whales to be killed.

"What I am saying is that we want fewer whales, many fewer whales killed than are being killed at the moment. Let's look at the facts, let's be realistic, let's not be emotional."

NZPA
Mon, 22 Mar 2010
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PM supports diplomatic solution to whaling issue
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