Greenpeace finds and engages the whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean

Press release - 21 December, 2005
Southern Ocean, 21 December 2005 -- Two Greenpeace ships, the MY Esperanza and the MY Arctic Sunrise, today confronted the Fisheries Agency of Japan whaling fleet and called on it to "Leave the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary immediately." In eight inflatable's carrying banners which read "defending the whales" and "stop whaling" crew from the two ships declared their intention to block the hunt.

Greenpeace encounter Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean today and attempt to disrupt the whaling operation.Greenpeace is using every available peaceful and non-violent means to bring the hunt to an early endand make it the last time the Sanctuary is breached by the whalers.

Dead Minke Whale attached by a harpoon line to the Japanese whaling ship the Kyo Maru in the Southern Ocean.

While the Greenpeace ships were relaying their message, two 'catcherships' arrived on the scene with dead minke whales hung from theirhulls, ready to be transferred to the fleet's factory ship, the NisshinMaru. However, the Esperanza was blocking access to the Nisshim Maru'sstern ramp and one 'catcher', the Kyo Maru Number One, twice tried topush the Esperanza out of the way, in the interest of safety theEsperanza pulled back.

"This whale hunt is unnecessary, unjustified, and unwanted," saidGreenpeace Expedition leader Shane Rattenbury. In a radio call to thewhaling vessels, 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 the Fisheries Agency of Japan has more thandouble its planned catch of minke whales to 935 and added 10 endangeredfin whales. Over the next 2 years 40 more fin whales will be added tothe annual kill along with 50 humpback whales. Fin whales are thesecond 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' theonboard butchers get to work and the whales are cut up and boxed formarket," said Rattenbury. "This is all about money and not science!"

Greenpeace is using every available means to bring the hunt to an earlyend and make it the last time the Sanctuary is breached by the whalers.This includes tracking the money behind the fleet.

Greenpeace, the Environmental Investigations Agency and the HumaneSociety of the US, have been tracking the money behind the whalingfleets. Greenpeace is currently focussing its attention on the US seafood giant Gorton's, the US frozen seafood market leader. US consumersare familiar with its 'friendly family business' image, but they arenot so whale friendly. Gorton's is owned by Nissui USA, a wholly-ownedsubsidiary of Nissui, Japan's second-largest marine products company,and one 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 where highlevel diplomatic pressure has failed, Greenpeace hopes that consumerscan once and for all demonstrate that there is no profit in whaling,"said Rattenbury.

For more information on the campaign to defend the whales go to:

Video and stills of whales being harpooned today and being transferredfrom the catcher ships to the factory ship and being cut open on boardthe factory ship are being transmitted from the Greenpeace ships andwill be available within the next few hours.

Other contacts: Shane Rattenbury, Greenpeace Southern Ocean Expedition Leader, on board the Arctic Sunrise, + 872324453811 (imersat) too be checked Yuko Hirono of Greenpeace Japan, on board the Esperanza, + 872324469010 (imersat) John Bowler, Greenpeace International, in Amsterdam + 353872394692 Mike Townsley, Greenpeace International Communications, +31621296918

VVPR info: For video and stills: Video available from Greenpeace International Video Desk +31653504721 Photos available from Greenpeace International Photo Desk +31653819121 or +31653819255

Notes: The campaign to defend the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is the first stage in an ambitious new Greenpeace campaign 'Defending our Oceans'. Over the next year the Esperanza will be Greenpeace's main platform in arguing for a network of marine reserves or parks covering 40% of the world's oceans: places to be protected from industrial exploitation and destruction, from industrial fishing and hunting, and places from which our oceans can begin the process of repair and recovery. Seventy crew and campaigners from 19 countries are on board the two Greenpeace vessels: UK, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Ghana, Russia, Norway, Denmark, USA, France, Italy, Japan, Ireland, India, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Austria and Argentina.