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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, June 16) – French Polynesia has publicly opposed a Japanese initiative to increase commercial whaling during the 2005-2006 season.

Wednesday’s official position taken by the French Polynesia Government Council occurred in advance of the International Whaling Commission’s scheduled meeting in South Korea next week. Pro-whaling nations Japan, Norway and Iceland are scheduled to make their yearly call for an end to a moratorium that has banned commercial whaling since 1986.

The Japanese project involves humpback and finback whales being hunted in Antarctic waters for scientific studies.

The official Tahiti government declaration approved Wednesday notes that French Polynesia waters provide shelter for many species of marine mammals and plays an important role in the reproduction of whales. French Polynesia intends to preserve its exceptional natural heritage for future generations, the declaration states.

Since May 2002 a marine sanctuary that includes the exclusive economic zone, territorial waters and waters within the islands has existed in French Polynesia to protect whales and other marine mammals.

Tahiti’s government approves the research consortium dealing with South Pacific marine mammals that claims an intensification of commercial whaling would represent a threat to the reconstitution of whale populations in the region and could compromise an increase in those populations and even lead to their reduction in numbers.

"Scientific research does not justify the capture of whales and can be carried out by non-lethal methods," Tahiti’s declaration states. "The Council of Ministers reiterates its support for efforts made within the international community, and particularly within the International Whaling Commission, to denounce and prohibit the resumption of hunting campaigns. It is also counting on the mobilization of all South Pacific countries."

Japan has stubbornly fought for decades to defend its right to hunt whales. While the biggest whaling nation and the largest contributor to the International Whaling Commission, sales of whale meat in Japan are reportedly declining, with recent polls showing the public is ambivalent about it, only have of them having ever tried eating whale.

June 17, 2005

Tahitipresse: http://www.tahitipresse.pf/index.cfm?lang=2

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