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Whalers fail to harpoon conservation at IWC

Whalers fail to harpoon conservation at IWC

StKitts and Nevis:16 June 2006: Greenpeace today breathed a sigh of
relief as pro-whaling nations led by Japan failed to gain a majority during
the opening day of the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) annual
meeting, in St Kitts. The international environmental organisation announced
that it intends to return to the Southern Ocean this year to oppose Japan’s
continued ‘scientific hunt’ which will target 935 minke whales and ten
endangered fin whales, warning that there is no cause for complacency. (1)

During the first vote on the opening day of the Conference, Japan called
to have any reference for a discussion on conservation of small cetaceans
(dolphins and porpoises) to be struck from the agenda. The motion was defeated
32 votes to 30. The second and deciding vote on Japan’s call for secret ballots
was defeated by 33 votes to 30. This means the whalers have stumbled in their
bid to take over the IWC.

For years Japan has been trying overturn the 1986 IWC moratorium on
commercial whaling. It has been accused of buying votes in exchange for
foreign aid for fisheries given to many countries who they have encouraged
to become IWC members and who supported the pro-whaling position. Having
failed to win the majority at last years meeting, one of the Japanese
delegation made their intentions clear: The reversal of history, the
turning point is soon to come. (2)

“Whaling history may not have been rewritten this year but it was to close
for comfort. The anti-whaling countries must see this as a wake-up call and
add action to their rhetoric about protecting whales. This year Greenpeace
will once again challenge the whalers on the high seas, the question is what
are the anti-whaling countries prepared to do?” said Shane Rattenbury, head
of the Greenpeace International Oceans Campaign.

With a simple majority at the Commission, Japan would not have been able to
overturn the commercial moratorium on whaling but it could have wreaked
havoc with the IWC’s measure to protect whales. It could have had Greenpeace
expelled from the IWC, instigated secret ballots, forced a resolution
endorsing its “scientific” whaling programme and called for on the
Convention for the Trade in endangered Species (CITES) to lift its ban on
the trade in minke whales.

This year all of the private companies behind the Japan’s so-called
scientific whaling pulled out claiming that there is no profit to be made
from whaling and that too few Japanese people are interested in eating whale
meat. (3) In response, the Fisheries Agency of Japan has set up its own
company to try and sell the ‘chopped and boxed’ by-products of its science
to schools, hospitals and restaurants.

Despite the tensions at the IWC it is clear that the Fisheries Agency of Japan
do not enjoy the support of the Japanese people. In a new poll commissioned by
Greenpeace from the Nippon research Center, 77% of respondents said they did
not support whaling on the high seas, this means they do not support the
so-called scientific research programme in either the Southern Ocean Whale
Sanctuary or the North Pacific. (4)

"It is clear that the people of Japan do not support their Fisheries Agency' s
drive to bring about a return to commercial whaling. The people of Japan have no
appetite for the Fisheries Agency of Japan’s sushi science,” said Rattenbury.

“The whale hunt is bankrupt on all counts: politically, financially,
morally, ecologically and scientifically. For twenty years the Government of
Japan has kept the whaling fleet on life support under the guise of science,
its time to face the fact that the whaling industry is dead in the water. It
is time to stop the hunt,” concluded Rattenbury.

For further information contact the team in StKitts:

Mike Townsley, Greenpeace Communications, +31 621 296 918 (m)
Shane Rattenbury, Greenpeace Oceans Campaign Head, +31646177538 (m)
John Frizell, Greenpeace IWC Delegation Head, +447801212999 (mobile
video available from Greenpeace International Video Desk +31653504721
Photos available from Greenpeace International Photo Desk +31653819121 or


(1) The return to the Southern Ocean will bring full circle the most
ambitious ship expedition Greenpeace has ever undertaken. Defending Our
Oceans is a 15-month expedition to highlight the range of threats to the
oceans and calling for a network of marine reserves covering 40% of the
world’s oceans. It began in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in November
2005 and has since exposed pirate fishing in West Africa, shown the benefits
of ‘no take’ zones in the whale watching waters of the Azores and is
currently exposing the critical state of tuna stocks in the Mediterranean.
Check out oceans.greenpeace.org

Over the 73 days from November 20th 2005, 57 crew from over 20 countries
onboard the Greenpeace ships MY Esperanza and 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.

(2) Japan’s Alternate Commissioner to the IWC, Akira Nakamae, Deputy
Director of the Fisheries Agency of Japan. IWC 57, Ulsan, South Korea, 2005.

(3) Along with other environmental organisations like the Environmental
Investigations Agency and the Humane Society of the US, Greenpeace launched
a consumer campaign last year calling on Nissui, a one-third shareholder in
Kyodo Senpaku, which owns and operates the whaling fleet to use its
influence to end whaling. Emails where also sent to two of the world's
largest seafood companies with links to the whaling business: Gortons in the
US, wholly owned by Nissui, and Sealord in New Zealand, 50 percent owned by
Nissui. Globally, Greenpeace Ocean Defenders sent a total of 100,000 emails
to Nissui-related companies. In addition, Nissui lost seafood supply
contracts in Argentina after activists placed stickers denouncing whaling on
Nissui products in supermarkets and sent more than 20,000 emails. Before the
fleet had even finished the hunt, Nissui and the other companies behind the
whaling fleet announced they were pulling out.


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