Government of Japan: Don't empty our oceans

Press release - 11 October, 2004
Greenpeace activists today held a peaceful demonstration in front of the Japanese embassy to demand that the government of Japan vote in favour of the conservation of marine species at the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (1).

Greenpeace activists protest outside the Japanese embassy in Bangkok, calling on Japan to vote in favour of measures to protect marine species. The protest took place as delegates meet in Bangkok for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Some 166 nations are participating in the meeting that will end on 14 October. Japan has consistently sidestepped motions to implement protection measures for marine wildlife.

"The government of Japan has historically sided with industry at thisConvention, " said Tim Birch of Greenpeace. "They must realise that ifthey don't start saving marine life now by adopting sustainable fishingpractices, they, and indeed all of us, will soon be faced with emptyoceans."

A dozen activists of various nationalities displayed a bannerreading, Japan: Don't empty our oceans. The activists wore "nemo" fishhats and delivered a letter to the ambassador of Japan highlighting theplight of the world's oceans and Japan's role in their exploitation.

During the second week of the CITES meeting being held in Bangkok,governments will vote on placing various marine species including thegreat white shark and humphead wrasse on Appendix II of the Convention.Greenpeace is also seeking to uphold the listing of Minke whales onAppendix I, which Japan has proposed to downlist to Appendix II. So farthe Japanese government has spoken against these listings and hasencouraged a number of other governments, including a number ofcountries from both the eastern Caribbean and Africa, to take a similarstance.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisationaround 75% of the world's fisheries are classified as fully exploited,overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. Recent scientificstudies reveal that 90% of all large fish have disappeared from theworld's oceans in the past 50 years.

"The government of Japan continues to treat the world's oceans asthough there is no tomorrow. Their unsustainable fisheries industriesare only looking out for their own interests and refuse to accept thefact that the seas are suffering from over-exploitation. They must voteto ensure that short-term profit does not continue to empty ouroceans," concluded Birch.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigningorganisation that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to exposeglobal environmental problems and to force solutions that are essentialto a green and peaceful future.

Notes: (1) CITES is the Convention on international trade of endangered species and was established to regulate and control trade in endangered species. It provides three regulatory options in the form of Appendices. Animals and plants listed under Appendix I are excluded from international commercial trade except in very special circumstances. Commercial trade is permitted for species listed under Appendix II but it is strictly controlled on the basis of CITES permits or certificates. Appendix III includes species that are protected within the borders of a member country.