New Zealand welcomes early end to whaling season

22:06, February 18, 2011      

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New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully on Friday welcomed the announcement by the Japanese government that its whaling fleet will stop operation in the Southern Ocean and return home due to persistent disruptions from anti-whaling activists.

"The New Zealand Government and public strongly oppose whaling in the Southern Ocean. Clearly the withdrawal of the fleet is something that we welcome," McCully said in a statement.

"I hope that the early cessation of whaling for this season will allow time for constructive dialogue to resolve the international impasse on whaling issues," he said.

"Our objective is to achieve a framework that provides for the permanent elimination of whaling in the Southern Ocean. It is our hope that we will have the opportunity to pursue this now through further discussion," he added.

Sea Shepherd ships have been chasing the Japanese fleet for weeks in the icy seas, trying to prevent the whalers from filling their seasonal quota.

Commercial whaling was banned in 1986 but Japan uses a regulation permitting hunting for scientific research. Some anti- whaling environmentalists maintain that this is simply Japan's way of exploiting a loophole for the continuation of commercial whaling.

Source: Xinhua
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