Mayor calls on Japanese sister

By LEE McDOUGALL

COFFS HARBOUR City Council will continue to have close links with Japanese city Sasebo despite Japan's push to expand its whaling industry.

Neighbouring Clarence Valley Council recently voted to sever ties with its Japanese sister city, citing among the reasons Japan's position on whaling.

Coffs Harbour mayor, Cr Keith Rhoades, said cutting ties would only remove the opportunity to apply political pressure on his Japanese mayoral counterpart. "Last year the council wrote to the mayor of Sasebo expressing its deep concern over Japan's continued slaughter, in the name of scientific research, of whales," Cr Rhoades said.

"We have urged him to take our concerns to his government representatives.

"As the mayor of Coffs Harbour, a city with a substantial whale-watching industry, I am appalled by Japan's decision to continue its slaughtering of whales.

"In terms of severing our sister city ties, however, how can you change something if you are no longer part of the negotiations? By severing ties, we will no longer have the ear of those in power."

The owner of Spirit of Coffs Harbour, Peter Bruce, wholeheartedly agrees.

He says it would be a tragedy to sever our sister city ties as it provides a perfect opportunity to make the Japanese aware of of what is going on in the whaling industry.

"I've been watching cetaceans off Coffs Harbour for 20 years and the whale-watching industry is only just coming to fruition," Mr Bruce said.

"Ten to fifteen years ago there just weren't enough whales to support a whale-watching industry here, but now you are guaranteed 98 per cent of the time to see whales when you go out.

"It would be a tragedy to break our allegiance with Sasebo but it would be an even greater tragedy for the mayor and people of Coffs Harbour not to voice their opposition to what Japan is doing to our whaling industry."



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