Low demand delays Japanese Antarctic whaling hunt

Press release - 2 December, 2010
This morning at 10.52 Japanese time the whaling mothership Nisshin Maru crept out of the Japanese port of Innoshima sparking a delayed beginning to this year’s slaughter.

"This is the latest departure of the fleet in two decades. It means the hunt will be shortened and the quota is halved before the killing even begins," said Steve Campbell, Greenpeace Australia Pacific's Head of Campaigns.

"This year, the Japanese whalers will not have enough catchers to kill its usual number of whales and will not have enough onboard freezer space to store the resulting meat. This is a wasteful taxpayer-backed hunt that no one in Japan wants. This reckless whaling must end once and for all," said Wakao Hanaoka, Greenpeace Japan's Oceans Campaigner.

"I think this demonstrates that the concerted campaign Greenpeace has waged within Japan is making an impact," said Campbell.

"Greenpeace has for the past five years increasingly focused its efforts on a public campaign inside Japanese to expose the wasteful spending of taxpayers money on this shameful hunt of whales under the fraudulent guise of science," said Campbell.

As of August 2010, there was over 5,700 tons of whale meat still in frozen storage - equivalent to over a year's supply.

The fleet's support vessel, the Hiyo Maru, which provided fuel to the fleet and transported frozen whale meat back to Japan, was scrapped in September of this year. [1]

One of the three catchers, the Yushin Maru 3, will be used only for sighting whales, and will be operating away from the factory ship. The two ships that previously did sightings have been sold or scrapped. [2]

"Sales of whale meat are so poor that Japan's whaling can no longer afford the cost of at-sea refueling, so they are shortening their season," added Hanaoka. "We are witnessing the further collapse of the already dying whaling industry: unable to retain crew or maintain public support- we will see them back in Japan much earlier than in previous years."

Polls show over 70% of Japanese people do not support distant water hunting of whales. [3]

Two activists were recently found guilty after having exposed a whale-meat embezzlement scandal. Work continues in Japan to shine a light on this senseless hunt.

"The scientific credibility of this whaling never existed, and given the collapse of negotiations at the International Whaling Commission, it is time for the Government of Japan to end whaling subsidies and call in the loans given to the vessel operators. This must be the last whaling expedition to the Antarctic."

Greenpeace is opposed to all commercial whaling in all of the world's oceans and is working to end whaling in Japan by raising public awareness of the whaling industry's corruption uncovered by two of its activists, recently found guilty in Japanese court. Greenpeace is appealing the guilty verdict, intent to prove that dissent and civil protest can and should play a more visible role in Japanese society.

VVPR info:

Rosie Jones, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, 0407 284 916

Wakao Hanaoka, Greenpeace Japan, +81 90 1793 5423

Notes:

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. Lloyd’s Seaweb lists the status of the Hiyo Maru as “broken up” as of 2 September 2010

2. A document given to the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee (SC/62/O17) lists the Yushin-Maru 3 as being dedicated to the sightings survey. Another document (SC/62/O3) reported that in the 2009-10 season, the Yushin-Maru 3 was used only for sightings and did not hunt. The 2009-10 season was the first in which only two catchers were used since the programme began in 1987.

3. A poll was commissioned by Greenpeace Japan in 2008, prepared by Nippon Research Center Ltd. (part of the Gallup International Association) and can be found at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/japanpoll

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