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Tokelau declares whale sanctuary

Wellington (Global Adventures): Tokelau, a small island territory of New Zealand, declared a new whale sanctuary in its waters. With the announcement made on Wednesday, the South Pacific region now features 11 national and territorial sanctuaries. Together they cover over 7.2 million square miles (18 million square kilometers).

The new safe zone will outlaw whaling in Tokelau’s exclusive economic zone. So an area encompassing 112,000 square miles around three tropical coral atolls with a combined land area of 4.6 square miles and a population of approximately 1,500 in the South Pacific Ocean.

South Pacific

countries have a common responsibility to protect its whales, said Foua Toloa, a representative from Tokelau. “Whales don’t recognize national boundaries, and Tokelau would be remiss if we failed to support our Pacific island neighbors in the quest to help recovery of the whales in our region,” Toloa said during a conservation meeting in New Zealand that condemned the continued whale-hunting by some countries.

Despite a global moratorium on commercial whaling introduced by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986. On the other hand more than 30,000 whales have since been killed. Several countries including Japan, Norway and Iceland exploit loopholes in the moratorium and continue to hunt the animals.

There is a stark

contrast between the growing number of countries declaring their commitment to whale conservation by establishing sanctuaries, and the negotiations on the future of the IWC, said Karen Sack, director of international ocean conservation for the US-based Pew Environment Group. This international organization should reinforce its own whale safe havens on the high seas. Particularly in the Southern Ocean, to complement and enhance country protections.

While the establishment of the new sanctuary around Tokelau will have no immediate impact on whaling, conservationists say that the declaration will strengthen the anti-whaling cause.

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Chief Editor at Global Adventures Magazine

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