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Whaling Activists Dragged Up Stern Of Whaling Ship


12 January 2000

SOUTHERN OCEAN -- Two Greenpeace activists in an inflatable boat were today dragged half way up the stern ramp of a Japanese whaling ship, illegally hunting whales in the protected Southern Ocean whale sanctuary. The activists had attached the inflatable to a tow-line to prevent the transfer of a harpooned Minke whale from a Japanese catcher ship to the factory ship Nisshin-maru. The crew on board the Nisshin-maru used a long handled flensing knife - normally used for sectioning whales - to cut the inflatable boat from the tow-line, sending it shooting back down the stern ramp.

As the Nisshin-maru moved away at high speed in order to resume whaling, six Greenpeace activists (including Japanese activist Yasuhiro Ito) jumped into sub-zero waters in front of the ship, which did not slow down or divert from its course. No-one was injured.

“For 24 days now our activists have been doing everything they can to force Japan to stop illegal whaling, doing the job that should be done by the governments of the world. The international community should use the strongest diplomatic means to tell Japan they will not abide them continuing to trample international law,” said John Bowler, Greenpeace campaigner onboard the MV Arctic Sunrise.

Argentina last week joined British, US, Australian and New Zealand governments in calling on Japan to cancel its Antarctic whaling programme. This week the Japanese Foreign Minister, Mr. Yohei Kono, is touring Europe to discuss Japan-EU economic relations. Greenpeace is calling on host governments to voice their opposition to Japan’s illegal whaling directly to him. Mr. Kono is in London today and will be in Paris tomorrow. In addition to its illegal whaling programme in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, Japan, with the support of Norway, is aiming to overturn international agreements to protect whales. It is actively lobbying to lift the current ban on the international trade in whale products at the International Meeting of Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to be held in Nairobi, in April 2000. This Friday, 14th January 2000, EU member states are meeting in Brussels to agree a common position on this issue, to put forward at the CITES meeting. Greenpeace is calling on all EU countries that are members of CITES to take a unified stand opposing Japan and Norway’s proposals and to make their position public.



- MV Arctic Sunrise: John Bowler on +873 624 453 210 [satellite rates]
- Australia: Dima Litvinov +61 408 869 788 or Kate Johnston +61 411 874 819
- Amsterdam: Matilda Bradshaw + 31 20 523 9545 or mobile + 31 (06) 535 04701


Notes to Editors:

The two activists inside the inflatable attached to the tow-line were Deb McIntyre (Australia) and David de Jong (Netherlands). The six activists that jumped in front of the Nisshin Maru were Yasuhiro Ito (Japan), Zeger Zel (Netherlands), Frank Kamp (Netherlands), Deb McIntyre (Australia), Milko Schwartzman (Argentina) and Juame Espina (Spain).

Japan’s Antarctic whaling programme is in violation of articles 65 and 120 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, (UNCLOS – adopted in 1982) which requires all states to co-operate with the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in the matter of whale protection. Despite repeated annual requests from the IWC to cancel the program Japanese whalers began hunting in the Sanctuary last November and intend to kill 440 Minke whales this year (up from 389 last year).

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