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Representatives of 27 countries oppose Japanese whaling


dpa German Press Agency
Published: Saturday December 16, 2006

Wellington- A record 27 countries have joined in a diplomatic protest against Japan's lethal scientific whaling programme in the Antarctic, New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced on Sunday. He said they combined in a formal protest at the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo on Friday and would make a further protest Monday at the Japanese Fisheries Agency.

Carter said New Zealand led the protest as the Japanese whaling fleet was due to arrive in the Southern Ocean within the next week for a further season of so-called scientific whaling in which it planned to kill up to 935 Antarctic minke whales and 10 fin whales during the southern hemisphere summer.

"New Zealand wanted to send a very strong message to the Japanese government before the start of its scientific whaling programme," he said.

"I'm delighted that a record number of countries agreed to participate in this protest, signalling once again that significant world opinion is firmly opposed to Japan's methods."

Carter said that although the International Whaling Commission adopted a global moratorium on commercial whaling from 1985, Japan awarded itself quotas under Article VIII of the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling to carry out "scientific" whaling.

"Adequate data for whale-management purposes can be obtained using non-lethal techniques, there's no need to kill whales to study them," he said.

"We consider that Japan's scientific whaling undermines international efforts to conserve and protect whales," Carter said, expressing alarm that from next year, the programme is due to expand to include 50 fin whales and 50 humpback whales.

He said fin whales were classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and humpback whales were classified as vulnerable.

"To make matters worse, the humpbacks Japan will be killing are already being studied in non-lethal scientific research undertaken on the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Tonga."

Carter said the following countries supported the diplomatic protest known as a "demarche": Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain and the United States.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency