The Nisshin Maru and friends.
At around 17:30 today, the expedition leader of the Japanese
government's whaling fleet radioed, informing us that the
Nisshin Maru plans to start sailing in threehours. He also
said that the whole fleet was currently beingre-fuelled, in
preparation for departure.
Spinning around: lack of transparency
Japanese government officials in Tokyo - and their PR spindoctorin New Zealand have continually
trivialised the extent ofwhat has truly been a serious situation
in the Ross Sea. Since thefire last Thursday, they've failed to
show transparency - either withthe rescue authorities or other
governments, about the extent of thefire, as well as the risks both
to human life and the Antarcticenvironment. They even publicly
stated - a little too quickly - thatthey hoped to just keep on
whaling! According to Japanese press, they also failed to inform
the family of 27 year old crewman Kazutaka Makita that he had died
in the fire - his family was left to find out through media
reports. This lack of transparency is one of the reasons we don't
believe their rhetoric about "sustainable" whaling.
If the Japanese government insists bringing its whaling fleet
intothe Southern Ocean, it's not only the whale populations that
arethreatened - Antarctica and the marine environment are also at
The Japanese whaling fleet causes unacceptable risk to the
environmentand marine life. This is the Nisshin Maru's
second fire - the first was in 1998. The Oriental
Bluebird, which was tied alongside the factory ship for the
last nine days, is a tanker flying a Panamanian flag of convenience.It's currently re-fuelling
the whaling fleet, none of the which are iceclass (unlike the
Esperanza) - despite routinely operating in icyconditions.
The Japanese government does not file anenvironmental
impact assessment for the whaling fleet's operations inAntarctica;
while there is no legal obligation to do so, Japan is a
signatory to the Antarctic Treaty. The Japanese government
does havean obligation to follow the spirit of this
international agreement andtheir whaling operation shatters both
the spirit and intent of theTreaty.
Antarctica is a global commons, and the responsibility of all
governments to protect for the good of humanity. The Antarctic Treaty System's stated objective is
"in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica
shallcontinue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes
and shallnot become the scene or object of international
We're calling on all signatories to the Antarctic Treaty and members of the International
Whaling Commissionto get some serious high-level political work
done to make sure this isthe last season that any whaling fleet
comes to Antarctica.
Atthis stage, if the fleet simply sails north out of here, we'll
stickwith them, and keeping offering assistance. If they don't
leave, youcan bet we'll be right there, taking peaceful direction
action to stopthem killing whales.
Hopefully, 2007 is the last time a whaling ship ever enters the
Southern Ocean. This expedition was only one part of our campaign
to ending whaling. We have a broad campaign that focuses in Japan,
because that is where the decision to end Antarctic whaling will
ultimately come, we are pressuring politicians at the highest level
to act rather than talk at the coming International Whaling
Commission meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, and we are mobilizing
support worldwide to bring an end to whaling.
Updates from our ship, the Esperanza, as they happen!
Live webcam on the bridge of the Esperanza