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Greenpeace Ship Banned from St Kitts

Greenpeace Ship Banned from St Kitts on Eve of Whale Meeting

St Kitts, Caribbean/Auckland, Wednesday 14 July 2006: The Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise has been refused entry to St Kitts, where it was due to arrive two days ago, ahead of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting that will begin on Friday. No official reason has been given to the environmental organisation, despite repeated requests.

The Artic Sunrise, which was one of two ships that confronted the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean at the beginning of the year, was due to be part of Greenpeace's lobbying work at the meeting, which could see the Japanese led pro-whaling countries seize control of the IWC.

New Zealander, Phil Lloyd who was bosun onboard the Esperanza during last summer's Southern Ocean whale hunt, is now onboard the Artic Sunrise near St Kitts.

"We are shocked that St Kitts has banned the Arctic Sunrise and can only assume that the government of Japan has convinced the St Kitts authorities to prevent us from entering in the hope that our criticism of whaling will be silenced," said Phil Lloyd.

The St Kitts meeting of the IWC could see the reversal of many years of whale protection and conservation, with strong indications that the Japanese government will have bought out enough votes to take control of the Commission. In that event it is anticipated that Greenpeace will be ejected from the meeting, after having had its observer status revoked, secret ballots will be introduced and the Japanese "scientific" whaling programme will be endorsed by the Commission.

If a majority of votes is taken by Japan and other pro-whaling nations, other moves are likely such as:

* shutting down the conservation committee (this would remove the focus of the IWC on conservation of cetaceans).
* endorsing "scientific whaling" (previously the IWC has resolved not to support "scientific whaling").
* kicking Greenpeace out of the IWC due to fabricated allegations that the Arctic Sunrise rammed a whaling ship in January (currently Greenpeace has 'observer status').
* removing all discussion on the protection of small cetaceans (so the IWC will no longer discuss responsibility for dolphins and porpoises). This is the thin edge of the wedge.
* choosing the next chair of the IWC.
* moving to secret voting. This will reduce the transparency and accountability of countries who's votes have been 'bought', and make it easier to get a 75% vote majority to resume commercial whaling.

"The future of the whales hangs in the balance and the refusal of the Artic Sunrise to enter St Kitts is yet another ominous sign that whales are for sale at the IWC and criticism is to be silenced," said Jo McVeagh, whales campaigner for Greenpeace NZ.

The minute the IWC meeting opens (overnight Friday NZ time) things are likely to move fast. By Saturday morning the meeting, IF it gets the pro-whaling majority we fear, could have already moved to secret voting, ejected Greenpeace and dumped some hard-won conservation measures.

For further information:

Whales campaigner for Greenpeace New Zealand, Jo McVeagh, 021 927 301
Communications officer, Dean Baigent-Mercer, 021 790 817

Phil Lloyd, onboard the Artic Sunrise can be contacted though Dean Baigent-Mercer.

---------------------------------------------
Recent History of Arctic Sunrise and in Southern Ocean and St Kitts Voting Record

* A notice refusing us entry was sent to the ships agent on June 9 from the Saint Christopher and Nevis Ministry of National Security, Justice, Immigration and Labour.

* Over the 73 days, from November 20th 2005, 57 crew from over 20 countries onboard the Greenpeace ships MY Esperanza and MY Arctic Sunrise travelled 14,500 nautical miles, spent 28 days in contact with the whaling fleet, including 12 days when no whales where killed. Sadly, and despite saving a great many whales by blocking the harpooners shot, they witnessed the brutal death of at least 123 minke whales.

* St. Kitts and Nevis joined the IWC on June 24, 1992 and 5 days later a Commissioner representing St. Kitts and Nevis attended an IWC meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. The Commissioner was absent whenever votes were taken, so St. Kitts cast no votes. After the 1992 meeting, St Kitts and Nevis remained a member, paying fees of around 14,000 a year but did not attend meetings. By 1995, it fell behind in its payments and lost the right to vote, eventually running up a debt to the IWC of about 50,000. In 1998 St. Kitts attended its second IWC meeting, held in Muscat, Oman, but, because of its debt, was not allowed to vote. However it did co-sponsor a resolution to accept the resumption of commercial whaling by Japan. By the time of the 1999 IWC meeting St Kitts' debts had been paid off and it has enjoyed full voting rights ever since. Since 1999, St Kitts has cast 88 votes; 82 have been identical to Japan's and on the votes Japan refused to participate in St. Kitts also refused. O
n a few occasions St. Kitts has voted when Japan abstained and vice versa. St. Kitts has never cast a vote against Japan.


Ends

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