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Greenpeace Ship Heads to Japan

Greenpeace Ship Heads to Japan to Continue Whaling Campaign

Sydney, Australia - 9th March 2007: After 42 days at sea, the Greenpeace ship Esperanza arrived in Sydney this morning, where it will spend 48 hours re-supplying in Australia. Greenpeace announced that it will then sail directly for Japan.

The crew of the Esperanza spent over a week on stand by to assist the fire-disabled whaling factory ship, Nisshin Maru in the Ross Sea in Antarctica last month, to ensure the safety of the vessel and its crew as well as witness any possible environmental impacts from the fire. The Greenpeace ship then escorted the entire whaling fleet out of Antarctic waters. The whalers this year killed 505 minke whales and three fin whales well short of their target of 945 whales.

The whole incident has generated a new debate in Japan, which is why Greenpeace has decided to send the ship there.

"While the Esperanza was with the disabled fleet we generated a level of debate on this issue in Japan that has been unprecedented, questioning the validity of the government whaling programme. However, it has become obvious that the Japanese government wants to give the incident as low a profile as possible," says Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan whales campaign coordinator.

This year's incident is the second time the Nisshin Maru had a fire on board in the last nine years. The cause of the blaze has not been disclosed, despite the fact that it resulted in the death of one of the crew.

"During the emergency with the Nisshin Maru, our crew began a positive, ship to ship dialogue with the whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. We plan to continue and broaden that dialogue from ship to shore when the Esperanza comes to Japan." Sato added.

Greenpeace Japan plans to invite representatives of the Fisheries Agency of Japan and the Institute for Cetacean Research on board the Esperanza when she arrives in Tokyo. Greenpeace will continue the dialogue begun with the Japanese public this year through interactive websites like the Whale Love Wagon http://whalelove.jp.

Greenpeace held a press conference at the ship in Sydney this morning, with Labour shadow Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Expedition Leader and New Zealander Karli Thomas.

"The key to stopping whaling on the high seas is the Japanese Government," said Thomas.

"What we saw in the Southern Ocean should be a clear signal to the government and people of Japan that this must be the last season that a whaling fleet goes to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."

It is reported that the Japanese Government intends to repair the Nisshin Maru and go back to whaling in the Antarctic in nine months' time. The plans include increasing the number of endangered fin whales from to 50 and to add 50 threatened humpback whales to the quota of 935 minke whales for the Southern Ocean.


Ends

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