The Greenpeace ship, 'Esperanza' is currently positioned just
outside Japanese territorial waters and will be shadowing the
Japanese whaling fleet after it leaves the port of Shimonoseki for
its passage towards the Antarctic.
"Prime Minister Fukuda should not just delay the whaling fleet's
departure to avoid political embarrassment abroad, he should
cancel Japan's entire whaling programme and decommission the
vessels to end the domestic scandal of wasting Japanese taxpayers'
money," said Karli Thomas, expedition leader aboard the
"The Japanese government's 'scientific' whaling programme is a
sham and a source of diplomatic tension between Japan and countries
that support whale conservation, like the United States. Whaling
has no place in Antarctica - it's a place of peace and science, and
this is not science," she emphasised.
Japan's annual Southern Ocean whale hunt is conducted under the
guise of science but has been condemned internationally. This
season, Japan aims to kill more than 1,000 whales, including 50
endangered fin whales and, for the first time this year, 50
threatened humpback whales. The International Whaling Commission
has called for an end to the killing of whales in the Southern
Ocean Whale Sanctuary under Japan's whaling programme.
"Japan's whalers are deceiving the Japanese public by painting
the word 'research' on their ships," said Junichi Sato of
Greenpeace Japan. "Real scientists don't need to kill whales to
study them. This is commercial whaling poorly dressed up as
An opinion poll carried out in Japan by the Nippon Research
Centre, in June 2006, (1) showed that 95 per cent of Japanese
people never or rarely eat whale meat. More than two-thirds of
Japanese do not support whaling on the high seas. Japan has close
to 4,000 tons of whale meat from its 'scientific' whaling programme
in cold storage - uneaten, unsold, and unwanted.
Greenpeace is collaborating with a team of scientists on the
'Great Whale Trail' project. (2) Data from satellite tagging of
whales, harmless skin biopsies and fluke identification has already
yielded valuable information about the migration patterns of
threatened humpback populations, without a single harpoon being
fired. Greenpeace will display the location of the whaling fleet as
it is tracked south by the Esperanza on the same map on which it is
tracking humpback migration routes from their breeding grounds in
New Caledonia and the Cook Islands..
Japan's whaling fleet will come close to several countries that
have an economic interest in whale-watching. Some humpback whales
are worth as much as a million dollars in tourist income to small
Pacific Island States like Tonga. Whale-watching is the only truly
sustainable economic form of activity involving whales and
generates more than US $1 billion worldwide every year.
"The Japanese Government should already know that information
about whales can be gained without killing them," said Junichi
Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales Project leader. "The Antarctic whale
hunt is an expensive waste of Japanese taxpayers' money and goes
against public opinion in Japan and overseas. The time has come for
the Japanese government to end this hunt."
Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses
non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental
problems to force solutions that are essential to a green and
Other contacts: Dave Walsh, Communications officer on board the Esperanza: +872 764 149 675/+872 324 469 014 (GMT +9)Sara Holden, Greenpeace International Whales Project leader, Amsterdam: +31 615 007 406 (GMT + 2)Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales Project leader, Tokyo: +81-80-5088-2990 (GMT + 9)
Notes: 1. June 2006 Independent opinion poll by Gallup affiliate Nippon Research Center http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/whaling-poll-japan2. Great Whale Trail website: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/oceans/whaling/great-whale-trail