IWC must show leadership in whale conservation

As the International Whaling Commission meets in Brazil today, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says it must reinforce its leadership role in the conservation of whales and dolphins.

“New Zealand supports the IWC this year establishing the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary and delivering outcomes on global oceans issues that affect whales and dolphins, such as abandoned fishing gear and ocean noise,” Mr Peters said.

“Global attention is focused on conservation leadership, and the IWC must be no exception. Now is not the time to step backwards.

Referring to Japan’s proposal to resume commercial whaling of some species, Mr Peters said, “New Zealand continues to support the moratorium on commercial whaling. We want to see the Commission’s efforts on whale conservation strengthened, not weakened.

“We believe the IWC is functioning well and delivering on its objectives. For example this year it will consider the renewal of quotas of whales that may be caught legitimately by local indigenous groups,” Mr Peters said.

New Zealand remains committed to supporting the Commission’s role in non-lethal whale research.

“It’s important we understand how climate change is affecting whale and dolphin populations, and their contribution to healthy oceans.”

The International Whaling Commission is the intergovernmental body established under the International Convention to Regulate Whaling 1946. It comprises 87 members. Its last meeting was held in Slovenia in October 2016.