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Concern over threats to cultural resources

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 14, 2010) – Tokelau has declared its intention to outlaw whaling in its 290,000 square kilometers exclusive economic zone.

This brings to 11 the number of Pacific nations and territories to have created sanctuaries protecting whales within their waters.

[PIR editor’s note: Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand, is a group of three atolls located north of the Samoas. The atolls have a population of about 1,400.]

Fakaofo’s traditional leader, Aliki Faipule Foua Toloa, says steps are needed to conserve the species, which has a cultural and spiritual significance for many Tokelauans.

He says Tokelau’s Council made an informed decision based on various scientific data and he hopes other Pacific nations, which haven’t done so already, will do the same.

"It’s a wise decision on behalf of Tokelau to do that. And I believe its adding to the solidarity of the Pacific on issues like this especially as it is a very important resource."

Aliki Faipule Foua Toloa

Tokelau made the declaration at today’s gathering of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium in Auckland.

Meanwhile an official with New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the territory is constitutionally required to discuss such a move with Wellington and is yet to do so.

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