15 Jul 2004

Tuvalu rejects claims that Japan has encouraged it to join the International Whaling Commission

8:29 pm on 15 July 2004

The Tuvalu government is denying it has been encouraged by Japan to join the International Whaling Commission.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare says the announcement raises the possibility that the number of pro-whaling members will outnumber those opposed to whaling for the first time in years.

Denise Boyd who's the head of programmes for IFAW says up until a week ago, Tuvalu had shown no interest in whales, and she believes this is a clear indication of Japanese pressure at work.

But Tuvalu's secretary to government, Nelesone Panapasi, who's on his way to the IWC's annual meeting in Italy, says they haven't decided which way they will vote.

"well we'll to listen to the scientific evidence that people have during the meeting, because we are yet to really know what information they have, eh"

However, Mr Panapasi does say Tuvalu believes in the sustainable use of marine resources and that the Japanese have already presented their evidence to them.