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Species Conservation

New Zealand’s Policy on Protecting Whales

As a geographically isolated country with many unique plants and animals and as a country dependent on activities such as agriculture, fishing and forestry for our economic wellbeing, New Zealand has a strong interest in species conservation. New Zealand therefore plays an active role in the operation of international treaties relating to species conservation with a particular interest in the conservation of marine species such as whales.

Whale stocks were heavily exploited by commercial whaling in the nineteenth and twentieth century to the point where overall numbers declined substantially, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere.

New Zealand argues for the continued conservation of whales, principally through the International Whaling Commission.

The International Whaling Commission

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the international body with management responsibility for the world’s great whales, such as the blue, fin, sei, Bryde’s, minke, right, pygmy right, humpback, bowhead, gray and sperm whale. New Zealand and many other IWC members believe that the Commission should have responsibility for the management of all whales and dolphins.

New Zealand is a firm supporter of the IWC’s moratorium on commercial whaling which became effective in 1986.  New Zealand also advocates for the creation of whale sanctuaries, including in the South Pacific and South Atlantic.

New Zealand is strongly opposed to Japan’s “scientific whaling” in the North Pacific and Southern Ocean under which over 600 whales are killed annually to determine their dietary patterns by examining their stomach contents. New Zealand believes that such research can be carried out using non-lethal methods and supports efforts to develop international non-lethal whale research programme.

The New Zealand Commissioner to the IWC is Gerard van Bohemen, who took up the appointment in September 2010. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade cooperates closely with the Department of Conservation in developing policy on whale conservation.

IWC meeting - July 2012

The 64th meeting of the International Whaling Commission took place in Panama in July 2012.

The 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission will take place in Slovenia in September 2014"

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Page last updated: Monday, 31 March 2014 11:27 NZDT