19 Jun 2006

Solomon Islands reneges on its public position over whaling vote

6:32 pm on 19 June 2006

The Solomon Islands has reneged on its position that it would abstain from a key vote at the International Whaling Commission by supporting Japan and its pro-whaling declaration.

All six Pacific Island members of the IWC voted to support the resolution which criticises the moratorium on commercial whaling.

The New Zealand Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter, says Solomon Islands, Nauru, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Palau, have let down their neighbours with their vote and he's deeply disappointed they did so.

The Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, had said they would abstain and that the Minister of Fisheries, Nollen Leni, was directed to abstain on votes connected to commercial whaling.

"The other issues were not discussed in cabinet and those are the issues we feel the minister is competent to make decisions on in the best interests of Solomon Islands. Only those two issues that are considered to be sensitive and contentious are the ones that cabinet actually gave him specific instructions on how to vote."

This is the second time the Solomon Islands government has said publicly it would abstain from voting but not done so.

Last year, the then Minister of Fisheries also voted in support of a Japanese bid to lift the ban on commercial whaling.