2 June 2010
A petition signed by 53,000 New Zealanders, calling on the Government to protect the future of the world’s whales, was delivered today during a rally on Parliament grounds.
About 200 people attended the ‘Save the Whales’ rally to demonstrate their support for the Government to negotiate a deal to save whales, not whaling when the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meets later this month. The IWC will be considering a proposal which could legitimise some commercial whaling including hunting in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
“For 53,000 people to sign this petition it sends a clear message to the Government to uphold NZ's long tradition of whale conservation and welfare,” said one of the organisers, Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas.
“Our Government must continue to work with other whale conservation nations to fight for a stronger deal to ensure the long term protection for whales, including bringing an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean.”
Speaking on behalf of Project Jonah, Kimberly Muncaster: “We made our thoughts clear in the 70s. Kiwis did not and would not accept commercial whaling in any form. Our supporters took to the streets to march against whaling, but almost 40 years on we find ourselves back where we started; protesting against the cruel slaughter of the world’s whales. Our resolve on this issue hasn’t weakened. The New Zealand Government needs to show us that theirs hasn’t either.
Also speaking at the rally, Kauahi Ngapora of Whale Watch Kaikoura said tourism ventures based around whales had the potential for far greater financial returns than commercial whaling
“We must work harder to ensure our message is clearly understood, whales are worth more alive than dead,” he said.
Bridget Vercoe of The World Society for the Protection of Animals said: “This proposal shows just how out of touch the IWC is with modern values - it is entirely missing the point that blasting conscious animals with exploding harpoons is grossly inhumane. Commercial whaling is cruel, archaic and unnecessary; it has no place in the 21st century. A proposal to resuscitate the world’s dying whaling industries would be a huge step backwards for animal welfare and conservation globally.”
Forest & Bird marine conservation advocate Kirstie Knowles said: "New Zealand floated the idea of a return to commercial whaling as a way to end whaling. New Zealand has a responsibility to act now to stop commercial whaling becoming legitimised once again.”