4 Feb 2009

NZ under pressure to act against whaling plan

3:10 pm on 4 February 2009

New Zealand is being urged to thwart a proposal to allow coastal whaling in Japan, which is under discussion at the International Whaling Commission.

A working group at the commission has confirmed the proposal is under active discussion.

The group is tasked with finding a way out of the current deadlock between member countries.

Its latest report details ongoing discussions to allow Japan to resume whaling in its coastal waters, with certain conditions attached, including a quota.

The trade-off would be a reduction in Japan's scientific whaling programme in the Southern Ocean.

International Fund for Animal Welfare spokesman Darren Kindleysides urged the Government to ensure the proposal goes no further.

He said a strong anti-whaling nation such as New Zealand should not compromise itself nor enter any deal that would increase the number of whales being killed.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said it would be premature to take a stance on the plan.

Mr McCully said the Government has a strong desire to see the number of whales killed in the Southern Ocean dealt with in the first instance.

"But we're not about to go engaging in any quick and dirty deal that's going to take a short term view when clearly there's a long term strategy required here," he said.