A Greenpeace inflatable boat tries to prevent Japanese whaling fleet's factory ship Nisshin Maru from refueling from the supply vessel Oriental Bluebird in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
As part of a dramatic peaceful protest, two of our activists
drove an inflatable boat between the factory ship and the refueling
vessel, as the two massive ships began moving closer together in
preparation for refueling.
Two Greenpeace inflatables were launched while members of the
Esperanza's crew warned the Japanese vessels, which were still
about a mile apart, that our boat and activists were beside the
refueling vessel, Oriental
Bluebird, to oppose the illegal refueling within the Antarctic
Treaty area. But the two ships continued to close in on each
other trapping one of our inflatables.
Before inflatables were launched the
crew of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza radioed the Panamanian
flagged Oriental Bluebird, in Japanese, Spanish and English, with a
"The Oriental Bluebird must leave Antarctic waters immediately:
your presence here is unwanted and a threat to the pristine
Antarctic environment which has been declared a particularly
sensitive sea area by the International Maritime Organisation and a
'natural reserve, devoted to peace and science' by the
Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty… Japan, as a
party to the Treaty, must comply with the letter and the spirit of
For about half an hour our inflatable - 8 meters long between
vessels of around 130 and 160 meters length - prevented the two
ships from starting to refuel. Eventually the inflatable was forced
out, with our driver narrowly avoiding getting caught by a
The two ships began exchanging their goods: fuel for the Nisshin
Maru to continue hunting whales, and the boxed "scientific results"
(whale meat) for the Oriental Bluebird to take back to Tokyo.
Our activists continued to document the refueling and whale meat
transfer from inflatables. As they were doing so, the Japanese
hunter vessels spent more than an hour performing dangerous
maneuvers, driving directly towards our inflatables in order to
push them away from the Nisshin Maru and Oriental Bluebird.
At this point, the Australian coastguard ship, the Oceanic Viking
appeared on the horizon. Their arrival had an immediate impact
on the activities. The hunter vessels slowed down and increased
their distance to the factory ships and as the Oceanic Viking came
closer they also turned off their hoses.
The Oceanic Viking launched two inflatables to document the
whaling fleet, free from the freezing water canon or dangerous
maneuvers of hunter ships. As our activists returned to the
Esperanza they radioed the Australian crew to request that the
Australian Government investigate the illegal refueling within
Clearly, the Oriental Bluebird is an integral part of the
whaling fleet. But it does not having any permit from the
Panamanian Government as required by the International Whaling
Commission. Japan is a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, which is
designed to ensure protection of the Antarctic environment. But the
whaling fleet consistently fails to submit the required
environmental impact assessments to the Antarctic Treaty
Secretariat. The Oriental Bluebird also lacks this documentation.
Ironically, Panama takes a position in defense of whales, at the
International Whaling Commission and elsewhere and yet they
participate in whaling by allowing the Oriental Bluebird to operate
under their flag. Greenpeace is urging Panama to de-flag the
Oriental Bluebird, or order it stop supporting the needless
slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Yesterday the Japanese Fisheries Agency said at a press briefing
that they have not resumed whaling because the Esperanza is with
them. Greenpeace activists are in the Southern Ocean to peacefully
stop the hunt and that is what they have done. But it is not enough
to stop whaling only when the world's eyes are on the fleet and the
Esperanza is on its tail. Japan must call an end to this whaling
season now and make it the last one.
The Japanese government has come under increasing pressure over
their whaling programme and yesterday that pressure increased after
Greenpeace Japan Whales Project Leader Junichi Sato wrote an open
letter to Japanese business leaders warning of the negative impact
that whaling is having on the country's reputation
Already the New Zealand division of Toyota has condemned whaling
even the former whaling company Nissui, has acknowledged that
whaling is bad for business.
'By hunting nearly 1,000 whales including endangered fin whales,
byusing tax payers' money, under the name of "research" in
aninternationally recognized whale sanctuary, the Japanese
government iscreating huge environmental, economic, and diplomatic
friction, thenegative impact of which many professionals in the
economic andfinancial world in Japan have underestimated. As
Nippon Suisan Kaisha,Ltd. (Nissui), one of the major ex-whaling
companies, said, "Involvementin whaling is a business risk."
Whaling creates a negative image to theworld for Japanese companies
and the country itself.
Take Action: Stop the new whaling ship
If Japan succeeds in plans to build a new whaling factory ship, whaling could continue for decades. Tell the Japanese Prime Minister that building the new factory ship is a bad idea.
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Create your own Whale Defenders page; get your friends and family to help you defend the whales.