AMSTERDAM/SOUTHERN OCEAN, 14 January, 2000: Greenpeace today welcomed New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke’s condemnation of illegal Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. The Prime Minister has ordered her Foreign Minister to make a high level diplomatic protest to his Japanese counterpart.
In a statement to the media yesterday, Thursday 13th January, Prime Minister Clark said her Government would also be “strongly challenging the Japanese (whaling) programme at the next meeting of the IWC (International Whaling Commission) in Adelaide in July”. She added that the “overwhelming majority of members of the IWC share New Zealand’s concerns about the Japanese whaling programme”. “Ministerial level action like that taken by New Zealand’s Prime Minister is what is needed to bring Japan into line with international law,” John Bowler, campaigner onboard the Greenpeace vessel MV Arctic Sunrise said. “Many more countries must make the strongest diplomatic moves before Japan will stop illegal whaling in Antarctica,” he added. To date, Argentina, Britain, the US and Australia have made diplomatic moves to pressure Japan to cancel its illegal Antarctic whaling programme. Yesterday, Greenpeace also received a communication from Ireland‘s environment minister, who promised to raise Ireland’s “dissatisfaction” with Japanese whaling. Greenpeace has also been informed that Germany’s foreign minister will take up this issue with his counterpart in Japan. In addition to continuing to whale illegally in the Southern Ocean, Japan, with the support of Norway, is actively lobbying to lift the current ban on the international trade in whale products at the International Meeting of Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to be held in Nairobi, in April 2000. European representatives of CITES are meeting in Brussels today to decide whether to support or reject Norway and Japan’s efforts to overturn the CITES ban.
Japan’s Antarctic whaling programme is in violation of articles 65 and 120 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, (UNCLOS – adopted in 1982) which requires all states to co-operate with the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in the matter of whale protection. Despite repeated annual requests from the IWC to cancel the programme, Japanese whalers began hunting in the Sanctuary last November and intend to kill 440 Minke whales this year (up from 389 last year). The Greenpeace vessel MV Arctic Sunrise has been tracking the Japanese whaling fleet, currently illegally hunting whales inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary surrounding Antarctica, since December 20, 1999. In that time, Greenpeace activists have used peaceful means to protest illegal whaling on at least 10 occasions. For further info contact
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