Greenpeace Ship banned from St Kitts on eve of whale meeting.

Press release - 13 June, 2006
The Greenpeace ship [the] MY Arctic Sunrise has been refused entry to St Kitts, where it was due to arrive two days ago, ahead of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting which will open on the island on Friday. (1) No official reason has been given to the environmental organisation, despite repeated requests.

44 activists from the Greenpeace ships Esperanza and Arctic Sunrise appeal for help in their campaign to end whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale sanctuary, by spelling out the words `Help End Whaling!’ using their bodies.

The MY Arctic Sunrise, which was one of two ships that confronted the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean at the beginning of the year, was due to be part of Greenpeace's lobbying work at the meeting, which could see the Japanese led pro-whaling countries seize control of the IWC. (2)

"We are shocked that St Kitts has banned the Arctic Sunrise and can only assume that the government of Japan has convinced the St Kitts authorities to prevent us from entering in the hope that our criticism of whaling will be silenced," said John Bowler of Greenpeace International.

The St Kitts meeting of the IWC could see the reversal of many years of whale protection and conservation, with strong indications that the Japanese government will have bought out enough votes to take control of the Commission. In that event it is anticipated that Greenpeace will be ejected from the meeting, after having had its observer status revoked, secret ballots will be introduced and the Japanese "scientific" whaling programme will be endorsed by the Commission.

St Kitts has a long history of voting with Japan at the IWC. (3)

"The future of the whales hangs in the balance and this is yet another ominous sign that whales are for sale in St Kitts and criticism is to be silenced," said John Bowler.

Other contacts: John Bowler, Greenpeace International, in St Kitts, +353 87 239 4692

Notes: (1) A notice refusing us entry was sent to the ships agent on June 9 from the Saint Christopher and Nevis Ministry of National Security, Justice, Immigration and Labour. (2) Over the 73 days, from November 20th 2005, 57 crew from over 20 countries onboard the Greenpeace ships MY Esperanza and MY Arctic Sunrise travelled 14,500 nautical miles, spent 28 days in contact with the whaling fleet, including 12 days when no whales where killed. Sadly, and despite saving a great many whales by blocking the harpooners shot, they witnessed the brutal death of at least 123 minke whales. (3) St. Kitts and Nevis joined the IWC on June 24, 1992 and 5 days later a Commissioner representing St. Kitts and Nevis attended an IWC meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. The Commissioner was absent whenever votes were taken, so St. Kitts cast no votes. After the 1992 meeting, St Kitts and Nevis remained a member, paying fees of around £14,000 a year but did not attend meetings. By 1995, it fell behind in its payments and lost the right to vote, eventually running up a debt to the IWC of about £50,000. In 1998 St. Kitts attended its second IWC meeting, held in Muscat, Oman, but, because of its debt, was not allowed to vote. However it did co-sponsor of a resolution to accept the resumption of commercial whaling by Japan. By the time of the1999 IWC meeting St Kitts' debts had been paid off and it has enjoyed full voting rights ever since. Since 1999, St Kitts has cast 88 votes; 82 have been identical to Japan's and on the votes Japan refused to participate in St. Kitts also refused. On a few occasions St. Kitts has voted when Japan abstained and vice versa. St. Kitts has never cast a vote against Japan.

Exp. contact date: 2006-06-24 00:00:00