Save the whales not whaling: NZ NGOs launch joint campaign

Press release - March 22, 2010
The New Zealand Government’s support for a proposal that could usher in a new era of commercial whaling has met with fierce opposition from animal welfare and environmental groups.

Collaborating under the banner of 'Save the whales, not whaling' the groups have announced petitions calling on the Government to reject any deal that would legitimise commercial whaling and allow hunting to continue in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Earlier this month the New Zealand Government came out in support of a proposal to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) which would allow Japan, Norway and Iceland to hunt whales openly, despite a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.

The results of the petitions, both on and offline (1), will be presented to the Prime Minister John Key before New Zealand officials attend the June meeting of the IWC where a final decision on the proposal will be made.

The groups, which include Greenpeace, Project Jonah, Forest and Bird, World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) say the Government's support of the proposal would undo decades of conservation work by Kiwis to protect whales.

Speaking on behalf of the group Bridget Vercoe, of WSPA, said New Zealand was abandoning its post as one of the staunchest defenders of whale welfare and conservation.

"At a time when the whales need us the most, the New Zealand Government is abandoning the whales and our traditional allies in whale conservation and supporting a deal that undermines the ban on commercial whaling."

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas said that the deal could usher in a new era of commercial whaling, going against New Zealand Government policy and public opinion.

"If the New Zealand Government supports such a deal, it will not only undermine the most important international protection the whales have, but will also wipe out decades of whale conservation work by Kiwis and sabotage New Zealand's clean, green reputation."

Forest and Bird marine conservation advocate Kirstie Knowles warned: "By accepting that it is okay to commercially hunt whales, it then becomes an argument about how many to kill. Whales and dolphins are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet - it is not okay++ to hunt them."

Philippa Brakes, of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, added: "There is no guarantee that the current deal would reduce the number of whales killed in the long-term and it misses a point of principle; whaling is cruel and unnecessary".

Other contacts: Karli Thomas, Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner, 021 905 582 Phil Crawford, Greenpeace New Zealand media & communications, 021 2299 594 Bridget Vercoe, World Society for the Protection of Animals, 021 448 949 Kimberly Muncaster, Project Jonah, 021 682 142 Kirstie Knowles, Forest and Bird Marine Advocate, 021 426 984 Philippa Brakes, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, 021 612 309

Notes: (1) Petitions are available from www.wspa.org.nz/whaling_nz www.greenpeace.org.nz/savethewhales www.projectjonah.org.nz http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/save-the-whales

Exp. contact date: 2010-04-22 00:00:00