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March 15, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Pure New Zealand?

Pure New Zealand?

The National Party hates whales.

Okay, maybe they don’t actually hate whales. Not in the way that I hate banana-flavoured milk, or, alternatively, your face. But the National Party does appear to be encouraging the slaughter of large sea mammals by saying that they’ll seek a “compromise” on whaling.

It all went down after International Whaling Commission (IWC) discussions a couple of weekends ago (here I imagine men with large walrus moustaches, ice encrusted on their eyelashes, sitting at a round table in furs, smoking pipes and chewing seal blubber). At this specific talk there was a hefty proposal on the table, one which would allow Japan, Iceland and Norway to hunt whales, openly, perhaps while waving banners and proclaiming loudly over megaphones that “all whales must die. I repeat: all whales must die”.

The IWC was originally set up in 1946 to ensure sustainable harvesting for development of the whaling industry. However, it soon became clear that commercial whaling was completely out of line for whale survival. In 1986 a total moratorium on commercial whaling was put into place. But rules have never stopped anyone, and at the moment all three of the above mentioned countries do hunt whales: Japan under the “for scientific research” loophole, while Norway and Iceland have simply “lodged objections” to international decisions, and happily continue to kill these large cetacean mammals.

The deal that’s currently on the blubber-strewn table would mean that ‘scientific whaling’ would be controlled by the IWC. The Japanese government would have to comply with sample monitoring and data collection, possibly meaning that less ‘scientific’ whale meat would be bundled into suitcases and sold on the black market. The compromise would also apparently ensure that total whale catch would be reduced over the next decade.

Legalising commercial whaling to stop commercial whaling, oh it all makes total sense.

Contrary to my aggressive opening statement, the National Government has said that they want commercial whaling stopped. But they’re all for reducing whale counts through diplomatic process, not by actually reducing counts. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has said that any deal would have to be “very attractive” to get New Zealand’s support. As he waits imminent wooing, McCully assures us that “we will obviously tell New Zealanders what’s on the table and seek their views”.

On the other side of the Tasman Sea, where people have higher salaries and there are cool dangerous animals, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said that he’ll drag Japan to the International Court of Justice if a diplomatic solution is not reached. Australia wants whaling phased out in five years. However, Australian Green Party leader Bob Brown said it looked like both New Zealand and Australia would succumb and sign up to commercial whaling, despite what the people want.

We’ll just have to wait and see, but in the meantime New Zealand isn’t looking that whale-friendly. New Zealand should be on the frontline, protecting the whales, speaking the voice of its people and protecting its image.

Whales are still where it’s at, just ask the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Despite the multitude of creatures at risk because of the human-caused ‘biodiversity crisis’, whales are still core ‘flagship’ species: getting all the awareness, getting the street cred on posters, the Snoop Dogg of the animal world.

Charismatic megafauna (the cute, large and cuddly) should be easy to protect. If we can’t save them from imminent calamity then it doesn’t look good for the rest of our zoological gang.


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Comments (3)

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  1. Peter M. says:

    I once made love to a whale. His name was Ecky Ecky EEEEEEEE Errrrr Click pop. He was hung like a horse. Or maybe I made love to a horse. I don’t remember…

    Save the whales (and the horses).

  2. Tequila says:

    Was the Whale’s last name ‘Brownlee’? Was the horsie’s last name ‘obama’?

  3. Eyjafjallajökull says:

    Pure New Zealand is and always was just wishful thinking of Tourism NZ, designed to create a nice image for visitors. Nothing wrong with it, with the exception that it’s a big fat lie.

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