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PRESS RELEASE July 5, 2000 Adelaide, Australia


The failure of an Australian and New Zealand governments' proposal for a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary was a short-term victory for desperate Japanese politics but did not spell the end for the proposal, Greenpeace said today.

Despite overwhelming support, 18-11, the proposal failed. The proposal needed a three quarter majority of those nations voting to be successful. It needed 23 delegates from countries who voted for the proposal to succeed. One country failed to bid and four others abstained.

Greenpeace Pacific oceans campaigner Zac Qereqeretabua said the vote showed that there was growing support for a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary and that Greenpeace was now confident that the sanctuary would be soon be a reality. He called on the Japanese government to quit its "desperate politics" and respect the will of the nations of the South Pacific.

"We are deeply disappointed that Eastern Caribbean states in ignoring the wishes of South Pacific Islands have allowed their vote to be bought by a country that wants to commercially hunt whales thousands of miles away from its own shores," Mr. Qereqeretabua said.

"This vote should have been about conserving the remaining world's whale populations, not about short-term gain. A South Pacific Whale Sanctuary would have stimulated a sustainable industry and economic independence for developing island states by providing them with a strong foundation for the emerging whale watching industry."

Mr. Qereqeretabua paid tribute to the Australian and New Zealand governments' advocacy of the sanctuary and said he hoped that they would bring the proposal back to next year's International Whaling Commission meeting, as previously indicated by Environment Minister Robert Hill.

"It is clear that an overwhelming number of Pacific Islanders and people around the world are opposed to commercial whaling and they will not be satisfied until a sanctuary in the South Pacific has been established."

Japan and Norway’s whale hunts are in violation of articles 65 and 120 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. During the lead up to the IWC vote there was an attempt by the Japanese government and Japanese Whaling Association to confuse the issue of culture with the sustainability of commercial whaling.

"The issue is simple. Small-scale commercial whaling is not sustainable. Economics demand a return to the type of large-scale commercial whaling which brought many species of whales to the verge of extinction," Mr. Qereqeretabua said.

For further information, please contact:

Oceans campaigner Zac Qereqeretabua (Adelaide) on mobile 61 415 411 719 Media officer Samantha Magick (Fiji) on 679 312861

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