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Whaling fleet leaves for the Southern Ocean

November 8, 2005

Whaling fleet leaves for the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

– Greenpeace New Zealand is calling on the Fisheries Agency of Japan to recall the whaling fleet that has just left the port of Shimonoseki in Japan heading for the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary.

Greenpeace whales campaigner Pia Mancia said that the FAJ had already declared that it intended doubling the take to more than 1000 whales this year – including the endangered fin and humpback whales.

"It is an outrage that the FAJ thinks that it is okay to send their ships thousands of miles into southern waters to hunt animals that have already been hunted to the brink of extinction," she said.

Pia Mancia said that commercial whaling had been banned by the International Whaling Commission since 1984, yet every year since 1987 the FAJ had exploited a loophole in international law which permitted it to issue licences for so-called scientific whaling.

"Reputable scientists have condemned this 'scientific' research, saying that the same information can be gathered without killing the whales," she said. "The whales taken in these scientific culls are cut up and sold in supermarkets."

Pia Mancia said that one of the "scientific" objectives of the FAJ's hunt this year was to study the role of whales in the collapse of fish stocks.

"But the vast majority of the whales they'll be hunting don't even eat fish," she said. "Nine hundred and thirty-five of the 1035 whales they intend catching are Southern Ocean minke whales and they eat krill."

Claims by the FAJ that "according to Japanese cultural values…whales are viewed as a food source" do not stand up to scrutiny, says Pia Mancia.

"In reality, few Japanese people view whale meat as a vital food source, and even fewer actually eat it," she said.

"An opinion poll commissioned by the influential Japanese newspaper Asahi in 2002 showed that only four per cent of the population regularly ate whale meat. Nine per cent rarely ate it, 53 per cent hadn't eaten it since childhood, and 33 per cent said that they never ate it."

ENDS

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