Auckland/Southern Oceans - 14th December 2001: Greenpeace today announced it’s presence in Antarctica to protest whaling. In the early hours of this morning a Japanese Greenpeace campaigner on board the MV Arctic Sunrise (1), spoke directly to the crew of the factory ship, Nisshin Maru - in Japanese.
Greenpeace campaigner, Yuko Hirono, speaking from an inflatable boat, radioed to request the whaling fleet to stop and inform them that Greenpeace would be taking non violent action to prevent Whaling. For the first time ever the whalers seemed to be listening as the message was relayed through the Nisshin Maru’s intercom to all the crew.
“When even the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has urged the Japanese Government to end this catch there is no justification whatever for the whaling to continue,” (2) said Hirono. “Greenpeace will continue its campaign until whaling has been stopped,”
In just 5 months the next meeting of the IWC will be held in the whaling fleet’s own home port of Shimonoseki. For the last few years the Japanese Fisheries Agency has been running a high- profile campaign to swing the balance of votes within the IWC and bring back full-scale commercial whaling. This year it could well achieve a majority in the vote – putting the future of the worlds whales at risk (3).
The Japanese Government claims to be taking Minke whales in the Antarctic for scientific research. But of the 2000 metric tons of meat roughly provided by the 440 whales the whalers intend to catch this year – only a few grams are claimed to be used for science, the earplugs, the sex organs, and the stomachs. (4)
“This take of whales is based purely on profit and is intended as the forerunner of a much larger hunt,” said Hirono. The meat will bring a wholesale return of at least 3.5 billion yen (28 million US dollars).
“It’s wrong to think that because we have a temporary ban on commercial whaling the whales are saved they’re not. Unless the Governments of the world act to stop them Japan will overturn the ban and full-scale whaling will begin again,” said Hirono.