Whalers found

Feature story - December 21, 2005
Our two ships, the Esperanza and the Arctic Sunrise, todayconfronted the Fisheries Agency of Japan whaling fleet and called on it to"Leave the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary immediately." In inflatablescarrying banners which read "defend the whales” and “stop the whaling," crew from the two ships declared their intention to stop the hunt.

Greenpeace witnesses the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean by ships of the Japanese whaling fleet. Banner on the Nisshun Maru factory ship says "Greenpeace Misleads you".

While our ships were relaying their message, two 'catcher ships'arrived on the scene with dead minke whales hung from their hulls,ready tobe transferred to the fleet's factory ship, the Nisshin Maru. However,theEsperanza was blocking access to the Nisshin Maru's stern ramp and one'catcher' tried to push the Esperanza out of the way twice. TheEsperanza pulled back for the crew's safety and no casualties arereported.

"This whale hunt is unnecessary, unjustified, and unwanted," saidExpedition leader Shane Rattenbury. In a radio call to the whalingvessels, from the bridge of the Arctic Sunrise, Yuko Hirono, ofGreenpeace Japan called upon the whalers to stop killing whales "andleave the internationally recognised Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."

Flying in the face of international protest and repeated calls from theInternational Whaling Commission (IWC) to stop its annual 'scientific'whale hunt, this year FAJ has more than double its planned catch ofminke whales to 935 and added 10 endangered fin whales. Over the next 2years 40 more fin whales will be added to the annual kill along with 50humpback whales. Fin whales are the second largest creatures on earth,after blue whales.

"No one is fooled by the giant new "RESEARCH" sign which has beenpainted on the side of the fleet's factory ship, the Nisshin Maru. Oncethe whales are have been measured and weighed by the 'scientists' thebutchers get to work and the whales are cut up and boxed for market,"said Rattenbury. "This is all about money and not science."

We are using every available means consistant with our principle ofpeaceful protest to bring the hunt to an early endand make it the last time the Sanctuary is breached by the whalers.

Greenpeace, the Environmental Investigation Agency and the HumaneSociety of the US, have been tracking the money behind the whalingfleets. We are currently focusing attention on the US seafood giantGorton's, the US frozen-seafood market leader. US consumers arefamiliar with its 'friendly family business' image, but they are not sowhale-friendly. Gorton's is owned by Nissui USA, a wholly-ownedsubsidiary of Nissui, Japan's second-largest marine products firm, andone third of owner of Kyodo Senpaku, the company that operates thewhaling fleet. Greenpeace is calling on Gorton's to use its influenceto convince Nissui to bring an end to whaling.

"In a world were international public opinion is ignored and wherehigh-level diplomatic pressure has failed, Greenpeace hopes thatconsumers can once and for all demonstrate that there is no profit inwhaling," said Rattenbury.

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Statement to Nisshin Maru on first encounter

This is Shane Rattenbury, expedition leader on behalf of the MY ArcticSunrise and MY Esperanza.

Our two vessels and the crew aboard are here to protest your whalingprogram, and request that you return to Japan immediately.

The area in which you are hunting has been designated as the AntarcticWhale Sanctuary, designed to help whale populations recover after thedevastating commercial whaling of the last century.

The whales in this Sanctuary are protected from commercialwhaling.  Your so-called scientific whaling has beenrepeatedlycriticized by the International Whaling Commission, and is nothing morethan commercial whaling in disguise.

The massive increase in quota this season simply underlines that thisis an attempt to restart commercial whaling.

You also plan to hunt the endangered fin whale.  There issimply no justification for targeting an endangered species.

We respectfully request that you immediately cease your whaling andleave this area.  If you do leave now, we will leave withyou.  If you do not leave, we will have no option but tointerferewith your whaling program.

Greenpeace is a non-violent organisation.  We will do nothingtoharm or endanger your vessels, your equipment or your crew. Wewill, however, use all peaceful means at our disposal to prevent youfrom killing whales.

We wish you safe sailing.

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Greenpeace first contact with the whaling fleet was at 66˚ south and146˚ east. 

Additional images: Greenpeace activists pounded by icy water from whaling fleet hoses ©Greenpeace/Kate Davison, right Japanese whaling fleet ship Kyo Maru heads towards the Greenpeace ship Esperanza. ©Greenpeace/Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

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