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Environmental groups are applauding Tokelau’s move to declare its exclusive economic zone a whale sanctuary, the eleventh such designation in the Pacific.
The International Ocean Conservation for PEW Environment Group says the more countries in the Pacific region who move to declare their commitment to whale conservation, the stronger the voice to protect the species
The director of International Ocean Conservation for PEW Environment Group, Karen Sack said its getting harder for fishing nations to ignore such efforts to conserve whales.
“What we need to remember is that even though the island states maybe small in terms of land mass, they really are big ocean states, and they have a lot to be proud of in terms of protecting oceans. Its time that other countries started listening to these ocean voices and pay attention to what they are saying.”
Meanwhile, the New Zealand government department that administers Tokelau, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT), said it has yet to discuss with the territory its plan to declare its waters a whale sanctuary.
Tokelau announced its intentions to declare its waters a sanctuary at a meeting of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium in Auckland yesterday.
MFAT said it has yet to discuss the whale sanctuary proposal with Tokelau’s legislative council.
An Associate Professor in international law at Victoria University, Alberto Costi, said Tokelau may not need New Zealand’s permission to declare the sanctuary.
“The Legislative Council of Tokelau passes legislation on local matters, for instance on maritime zone concerning fisheries around the waters of Tokelau.”
However, Professor Alberto said New Zealand would be needed to enforce the proposal.
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