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Whalers return: Greenpeace demands decommissioning

Tokyo, 14 April 2006

Whalers return: Greenpeace demands permanent decommissioning of fleet

-- The Japanese whaling fleet – centre of a series of dramatic encounters with Greenpeace anti-whaling protestors earlier this year - returns to port today facing a collapse in commercial support, discredited science and too few consumers.

Greenpeace today called for the whaling fleet, which is carrying nearly 1,000 dead whales (1) from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, to be permanently decommissioned.

“If alternative work cannot be found for the fleet then the vast Japanesen tax payer’s subsidies which keep it afloat would be better spent on finding real jobs for those involved in the whaling” said Shane Rattenbury, head of the Greenpeace International Oceans Campaign. “Japanese tax payers must be asking what they are getting for their money.”

During the five and a half months the fleet has been at sea its commercial backers have decided to pull out arguing that there is no commercial interest in the whale meat from the Sanctuary. It has been revealed that stockpiles of whale meat have nearly doubled over the last decade to 5,000 tonnes. The international community has condemned the research as fake.

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

Despite the lack of commercial support and consumers, the Japanese Government is continuing to spend tax payer’s money in a bid to bring about the return of commercial whaling. The Government of Japan has spent billions of Yen on buying votes at the International Whaling Commission (IWC).(2) At the forthcoming June IWC meeting the Fisheries Agency of Japan claims it will be able to secure a majority of votes to back its call for continued research and plans to push for an end to both the international moratorium on commercial whaling and the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.(3)

The campaign to defend the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary was the first stage in an ambitious new Greenpeace campaign 'Defending our Oceans'. Over the next year the ship MY Esperanza will be Greenpeace's main platform in arguing for a network of marine reserves or parks covering 40% of the world's oceans: places that will be protected from industrial exploitation and destruction, from industrial fishing and hunting, and places from which our oceans can begin the process of repair and recovery. The Esperanza is currently confronting pirate fishing vessels which are plundering the seas off West Africa.

For more information on the campaign to defend the whales go to:


1) 853 minke (male:462, female: 391) and 10 fin whales (male: 4, female: 6).

2) As a result of its persistent vote buying campaign, the Fisheries Agency of Japan is likely to get a simple majority at the June IWC meeting. If they get the majority they will be able to elect the new Chair and Vice Chair and will control the voice of the IWC. They will use this to endorse 'scientific' whaling, to tell the world that whales have recovered and that whaling is necessary for health of the ocean ecosystems. The endorsement of 'scientific' whaling is likely to be in the form of a resolution. At the 2005 meeting of the IWC Japan presented a resolution with 20 co sponsors in which the Commission urged Japan to continue whaling in the Southern Ocean.

3) At last years IWC meeting, Mr. Nakamae, of the Japanese delegation said: "As has been revealed this year, our side's supporters are about to reach a majority soon. Some of you are so glad that some poor sustainable use countries could not attend this meeting. However, next year they will all participate, the reversal of history, the turning point, is soon to come."

4) 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 death of at least 123 minke whales.

5) Along with other environmental organisations like the Environmental Investigations Agency and the Humane Society of the US, Greenpeace launched a consumer campaign calling on Nissui, a one-third shareholder in Kyodo Senpaku, which owns and operates the whaling fleet to 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.


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