Season May be Ended for Damaged Whaling Ship

Press release - 16 January, 2009
According to intelligence received by Greenpeace investigators in Surabaya, East Java, the Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru II, which was forced into a port in Indonesia for repairs, may be returning to Japan, and not the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Japanese whale catcher ship, Yushin Maru No. 2, in Surabaya port, Indonesia for repairs to a damaged propeller. The vessel was in Indonesia as whaling vessels are not permitted into New Zealand or Australian ports. There are mixed reports on whether the ship had been allowed to complete the repairs before departing for an unknown destination earlier today.

Rumours are rife about the condition of the Yushin Maru II, which left port this morning, without switching on its Automatic Identification System (AIS). Information received by Greenpeace indicated that ship had damage to its propeller, rudder and navigation systems. It's believed that the propeller was repaired yesterday, but it is not known if the rudder and navigation have also been fixed.

There are conflicting reports of her destination, but Greenpeace was informed by authorities in Surabaya that she will be returning to Japan.

 "If it is true that she is returning to Japan, it will make a significant dent in the number of whales killed in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary this season and we are delighted by that," stated Greenpeace International Whales Campaign Coordinator Sara Holden. "But one ship out of action is not enough. A full investigation of the whaling operation should be begun immediately and the government of Japan must make a commitment to stop squandering taxpayers' money on this sham whaling programme."

The Japanese government's whaling programme has been mired in controversy. Currently two Greenpeace activists are awaiting trial in Japan for exposing a whale meat embezzlement scandal surrounding the fleet following information from present and former crewmembers who confirmed that whale meat is routinely stolen from the fleet and sold illegally. In addition, Japan is making a mockery of international law by re-flagging and using the refuelling tanker, formerly known as the Oriental Bluebird, after it was fined by the Panamanian government for breaching international environmental law (2). Now named the Hiyo Maru - the vessel is still operating with the whaling fleet, without a permit and despite the fact that Japan has ratified a treaty which seeks to ban the practice of reflagging to circumvent environmental law. (3).

VVPR info: Dave Walsh, Greenpeace International Media, in Ireland: +35 387 220 7023Greenpeace International Press Desk, Amsterdam +31 20 718 2470Photographs of Yushin Maru 2 in Surabaya, John Novis, Greenpeace Picture Desk, +44 7801 615 889

Notes: 1. The Oriental Bluebird was deflagged on October 8th 2008, having been fined the maximum penalty 10,000 Balboas (US$10,000) by authorities in Panama, after being ruled in violation of a number of domestic and international regulations, relating to its permissible use, the safety of human life and the preservation of the marine environment. Laws cited in the Oriental Bluebird ruling of October 8th are:Decree-law Nº7, February 10, 1998 - Panama Maritime Authority creation, and other dispositions.Law Nº 2, January 17, 1980 - Creation of Directorate General of Merchant Marine, and other dispositions.International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)2. FAO Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation andManagement Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas (FAO Compliance Agreement)- a binding treaty to which Japan is a party