551 whales too many

Feature story - April 14, 2008
After five months at sea, the Nisshin Maru arrived in Japan today having taken around half the number of whales from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary as planned, but still 551 whales too many.

Activists from Greenpeace Japan meet the whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru with a banner saying "FAILED" as it arrives in Tokyo, Japan to unload whale meat for sale.

The annual assault on the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is over for another year with a final tally of 551 whales dying for the sake of fake and discredited research.

Although the number of whales taken was just over half the number the whalers had hoped, it is still over 100 whales more than the whalers took just three years ago.

The whale hunt was disrupted for 15 days during the height of the southern summer when our ship the Esperanza chased the Nisshin Maru across 4,300 miles of the whale sanctuary, shutting down the whole whaling operation for the entirety of the epic chase.

As well as minke whales, the whalers also intending to take endangered fin and humpback whales too. They decided to cancel the humpback hunt this year after fierce protests around the world but the fin whales were still in the crosshairs of the whalers.

In recent years, the Japanese Fisheries Agency has been telling the world that there had been a 'rapid increase' in the number of fin whales in the southern ocean and this justified the killing of 50 of the world's second largest whale.

Despite spending 3 months of the year scouring the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, the 6 ships of the whaling fleet didn't see a single one of the 'plentiful' fin whales.

The battle to defend the whales now switches to Santiago in Chile where the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission will be held. Japan will again try to overturn decades of whale conservation and enforce a return to the destructive days of commercial whaling in the southern ocean.

In a whale sanctuary, the only acceptable number of whales to be killed is zero. If the Japanese are serious about whale research - rather than a commercial hunt disguised as research - they should return to the Southern Ocean next year with cameras, not harpoons.

We think Canon cameras, the Japanese company famous for its work to promote wildlife and help endangered species - should be the first ones to endorse that concept. Please write to their CEO, Fujio Mitarai, and ask that he join the efforts to make this whaling season the last.

There's no need to kill whales for science.

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