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By Ray Lilley

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (November 29, 2001 – The Age/AP)---New Zealand is forging a coalition of South Pacific nations committed to banning whaling in their waters.

The move comes after New Zealand has been repeatedly frustrated in its attempts to set up an internationally recognized whale sanctuary in the area.

New Zealand was working on the alternative strategy for protecting whales, after accepting it was unlikely to win enough support at the International Whaling Commission for creating a South Pacific sanctuary, Conservation Minister Sandra Lee said yesterday.

"By working together, the small Pacific island nations can achieve our shared goal of a whale sanctuary, despite the opposition of the whalers," she said.

A joint Australia-New Zealand proposal for a South Pacific-wide whale protection sanctuary failed to win the necessary 75 percent support at the last two annual meetings of the whaling commission.

The issue will be considered again next May at the commission's annual meeting in Shimonoseki-- the home port for Japan's whaling fleet.

For additional reports from The Age, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Age.

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