Wellington, June 20 NZPA - Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says he is pessimistic about an acceptable outcome from the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) annual meeting which starts tomorrow in Morocco.
The meeting will consider a controversial proposal to allow Japan, Norway and Iceland to openly hunt whales despite a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, but to reduce the total catch over the next 10 years. The numbers Japan has put up have been too high for New Zealand to stomach, but the Government has not ruled out yet reaching an acceptable deal. Australia has rejected the idea.
New Zealand's commissioner to the IWC, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, has been critical of the IWC in the past and has expressed concerns that it could collapse and leave no organisation to regulate the killing of whales.
Mr McCully told TNVZ's Q and A that New Zealand was supporting the IWC process but the proposal was not good enough.
"I'm bound to say I've got more pessimistic as time has moved on...we're exploring, as urgently as we can, what significant room for manoeuvre there might be," he said.
"The alternatives here aren't flash."
There would be no real effective constraint if the IWC ceases to exist or is no longer fully representative, he said.
New Zealand wanted zero whaling and was focusing on the southern ocean, which was New Zealand's "greatest area of interest", Mr McCully said.
"It's a question whether we can see some sign of a phase out in a reasonable period of time."
If the numbers of whales caught in the southern ocean got small enough it would not be commercially viable for Japan, he said.