Despite international condemnation and little domestic support, a six-ship whaling fleet is due to sail from Shimonoseki in Japan tomorrow, with plans to hunt nearly 1,000 whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Greenpeace is calling on the Japanese government to keep the fleet in port, stop their fake research program and commit to protecting endangered species instead of hunting them.
A tearful wife of a whaler bids farewell to the Japanese whaling fleet leaving Shimonoseki, bound for the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary with plans to harpoon 935 mink whales and 10 endangered fin whales, before returning to Japan in March 2007. Greenpeace is calling on the Japanese government to keep the fleet in port, stop their fake research program and commit to protecting endangered species instead of hunting them.
In what is officially described as a 'feasibility study' for expanded 'research' whaling, the fleet plans to harpoon 935 minke whales and 10 endangered fin whales, before returning to Japan in March 2007 with boxes of whale meat ready for market.
“To claim this whaling program is research is an insult to science and to the Japanese people," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Oceans Campaign Project Manager. "This `research’ project is being pursued by small numbers of politicians and bureaucrats simply to maintain their vested interests in one of the most outdated industries in Japan and at the expenses of Japanese taxpayers’ money”.
During the 2005/2006 whaling season the fleet sailed thousands of miles to the Southern Ocean Sanctuary to carry out the first phase of the new 'feasibility study' - to see if they could harpoon about 1000 whales. They found they could, except when Greenpeace activists put themselves between the harpoon and the whales. According to the Japanese delegation at this year's International Whaling Commission the expedition was "a complete success".
"If the last feasibility study was a so successful, then why do they need another one?" said John Frizell, Greenpeace International Ocean Campaigner. "This programme is just a flimsy excuse to push for a resumption of commercial whaling, despite having no market needs in Japan"
Recently, in response to a proposal to export whale meat caught by the newly licensed commercial whaler in Iceland, the Japanese ambassador to Iceland admitted there is a massive stockpile of meat that had not been sold.
An opinion poll in Japan carried out in June 2006 by the Gallup affiliate, the Nippon Research Centre, showed that 95% of Japanese never or rarely eat whale meat and more than 70 % of Japanese do NOT support whaling in the Southern Ocean.
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VVPR info: Keiko Shirokawa, Greenpeace Japan Communications, in Tokyo: +81 90 34707884John Frizell, Greenpeace International, in the UK: +44 127 347 6839 Sara Holden, Greenpeace International Communications, in Amsterdam: +31 615 00 7406Images of tomorrow’s departure will be available from:Keiko Shirokawa, Greenpeace Japan and John Novis, Greenpeace International Photo desk, in Amsterdam: +31 653819 121 and Michael Nagasaka, Greenpeace International Video Production: +31 646 166 309