18 Apr 2006

Tonga says whaling getting too politicised

3:15 pm on 18 April 2006

The secretary of fisheries in Tonga says his country is hesitant to join the International Whaling Commission because the issue of whaling has become too politicised.

The New Zealand government and the environmental organisation Greenpeace are urging Pacific nations to get involved in the International Whaling Commission to shore up the anti-whaling lobby in a bid to counter Japan's influence.

However, Dr Sione Vailala Matoto says Tongans sit in the middle of the debate.

Dr Matoto says there are successful whale-watching ventures in the outer islands which would like to protect the mammals.

But he says there are also people who would like to substitute imported meats like mutton for whalemeat.

Dr Matoto says in the meantime Tonga would be reluctant to join the IWC.

"It's very, very much or too much political decisions to be made rather than just the science of looking at the stock and it's too much political rather than looking at the overall science, plus the management and all those issues."