2 Jun 2006

Vanuatu pledges support to anti-whaling lobby

11:44 am on 2 June 2006

Vanuatu has pledged support to Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell's anti-whaling campaign.

Senator Campbell has just finished a three-day tour of Pacific Island nations drumming up support ahead of the crucial International Whaling Commission or IWC meeting starting in the Caribbean on June 16.

The aim of the tour was to lobby governments for support because Pacific countries have been lobbied strenuously by Japan for their votes for a return to commercial whaling at the IWC meeting.

Vanuatu's Prime Minister Ham Lini says the protection of whales is crucial to the local economy.

However Kiribati and the Marshall Islands did not commit to the anti-whaling stance.

Vanuatu has recently declared a whale sanctuary and Senator Campbell urges other Pacific islands to do the same.

As a result of hunting, many whale species have not been seen in Vanuatu waters in a generation, until recently.

Meanwhile, current estimates indicate the whaling nations may have gained a small majority over Pro-conservation nations this year.