Japanese whaling may threaten Kaikoura tourism

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Japanese whaling may threaten Kaikoura tourism

January 04, 2014 - 07:58

Humpback whales frequenting New Zealand’s Kaikoura coast at risk in Southern Ocean

A whale is captured by Japanese harpoon vessel Yushin Maru.

Up to fifty humpback whales observed off New Zealand’s Kaikoura coast could soon be killed in the Southern Ocean. Migrating to the region for food, the whales face an immediate threat from Japanese whaling vessels.

Labour Party Maori Development spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta questions what the Japanese have yet to learn about whales after killing so many already. "We've got to question what's being done under the guise of scientific research," said Mahuta.

The result could pose an economic risk to whale watching tour operators such as Ngai Tahu, which made nearly $16 million last year. The concern is not just for Ngai Tahu alone but for all whale tourism ventures. "It's been a very successful tourism initiative down there, not just for, but on behalf of New Zealand," she added.

An expanding tourist industry worldwide, whale watching grosses over $700 million annually. In New Zealand, sperm and other whale species make regular visits to the deep waters off the Kaikoura coast.