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March 15, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Commercial whaling debate takes a new turn

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The New Zealand Government has agreed to a proposal that would see the restart of commercial whaling providing the catchment is reduced within the next 10 years.

In an effort to reach a compromise, nations of the International Whaling Commission met in the United States, but diplomatic efforts were unsuccessful. Reports have suggested the meeting presented a proposal that would allow Japan, Iceland, and Norway to hunt whales on the grounds that they lower their catch over the coming decade.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made it clear he would not support a policy that, despite preventing Japan from hunting under the heading ‘scientific whaling’, would see the restart of commercial whaling. Furthermore, legal action is still planned against Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean if they fail to cease activities by November of this year.

The decision by the New Zealand Government to support diplomatic efforts aimed at reducing whaling may harm the international reputation of New Zealand as an ‘environmentally friendly’ nation.

International Relations Professor Xiaoming Huang of Victoria University believes the opposite and commended the New Zealand Foreign Minister for choosing to take the diplomatic channel.

“This decision shows that New Zealand has a different way of addressing the issue of whaling. If anything, it could separate New Zealand from Australia in terms of their diplomatic policy.”

In response to the government’s decision, the Labour party has launched a petition against the move to restart commercial whaling. Huang does not feel this will gain much momentum.

“It is fair to say that Labour would oppose their decision, but the proposal to legitimise commercial whaling by creating a framework which either ends or reduces whaling numbers would be a positive initiative.”

No final decision has been made about what course of action the International Whaling Council will take.

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