14 Apr 2010

Tokelau declares its waters a whale sanctuary

1:31 pm on 14 April 2010

Tokelau is joining the fight to stop whaling in the Southern Oceans with the creation of a sanctuary in its waters.

The territory declared the safe zone for whales at a gathering of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium in Auckland today.

The sanctuary is the 11th to be created in the Pacific.

It will outlaw whaling in the 20,000 square kilometers of Tokelau's exclusive economic zone.

A representative from Tokelau, Foua Toloa, says the territory shares a common responsibility with its neighbours to protect whales.

Meanwhile an official with New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the territory is constitutionally required to discuss such a move with Wellington and is yet to do so.

A member of the consortium, Karen Sack, says the sanctuaries for Pacific whales are critical as they cover the area whales travel through each year as they migrate south.

Ms Sack says the addition of Tokelau to the list of territories and nations opposing whaling will put pressure on the International Whaling Commission to enforce the moratorium on the activity.