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S. Korean whaling plan condemned across New Zealand political spectrum

(Xinhua)

13:15, July 05, 2012

WELLINGTON, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Political leaders on both sides of New Zealand's legislature lined up Thursday to condemn plans by the Republic of Korea (ROK) to begin a "scientific" whaling program in the northwest Pacific.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the ROK announcement was " a serious setback for those who are committed to conservation of the species."

He hoped the ROK would carefully consider the concerns of countries like New Zealand before making any final decisions.

"Whales in these waters are already heavily targeted by Japan, and large numbers are also caught as by-catch by Korea. Any action by Korea to commence whaling in these waters following today's announcement will have serious consequences," McCully said in a statement.

"This initiative will also place further pressure on the IWC ( International Whaling Commission), already an organization with difficulty sustaining itself as a credible international institution," he said.

New Zealand had raised its voice against the proposal at the IWC meeting in Panama and McCully had instructed New Zealand's ambassador in Seoul take immediate steps to register the government's serious concerns with the ROK government.

Both the opposition Green and Labor parties supported the government's condemnation.

The ROK delegate to the IWC meeting reportedly said the planned hunt was in response to calls by commercial fishers who were concerned that whales were depleting fish stocks. Other reports said they had claimed cultural practice.

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