Japan resumes scandalous whale hunt

Press release - 31 January, 2008
Greenpeace is saddened by reports from the Australian Customs vessel, the Oceanic Viking, that the Fisheries Agency of Japan’s whaling fleet has killed at least five whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Once more, Japanese taxpayers must be wondering why they are funding this scandalous fake research operation which produces no real science, whale meat that no one wants to eat, and brings their country into international disrepute.

For fourteen days, the Greenpeace ship Esperanza chased the whaling fleet's factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, over a distance of 4,300 nautical miles. Without the factory ship, the remaining hunter vessels where unable to operate - bringing the entire whaling programme to a halt.

It is estimated that the whalers needed to catch approximately nine minke whales each day, and an endangered fin whale every other day in order to reach their self-imposed quota of nearly 1,000 whales. During the two weeks Greenpeace spent with the fleet more than 100 whales were saved.

While the Esperanza has all but exhausted its fuel supplies and is returning to port, media coverage and public discussion on the whaling issue has reached unprecedented levels in Japan, where Prime Minister Fukuda has been forced to discuss the whaling issue in Parliament.

The campaign is now moving from the high seas to Japan, harnessing the power of people around the world: in the last week, 42,000 concerned camera owners from around have responded to Greenpeace's call to email Fujio Mitarai, CEO of Canon Japan - a company known for its support of conservation issues - calling on him to speak out against whaling (2). Mr Fujio Mitarai is also the head of the influential Nippon Keidanren (Japanese Business Federation).

Other contacts: Dave Walsh, Greenpeace International communications officer on board the Esperanza. Tel: +47 514 079 86 or +873 324 469 014Sara Holden, Greenpeace International Whales Project leader, on board the Esperanza. Tel: +47 514 079 86 or +873 324 469 014Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales Project leader, Tokyo. Tel: +81-80-5088-2990 (GMT + 9)

VVPR info: Photos are available from John Novis, + 44 7801 615 889 in London (GMT+0) and video from Michael Nagasaka +81 806 558 4447 in Tokyo (GMT +9)

Notes: (1) The Esperanza located the whaling fleet in the early hours of January 12th, and has been chasing the Nisshin Maru ever since. On January 22nd, Greenpeace activists blocked attempts by the Nisshin Maru to receive fuel from, and transfer whale meat to, the Panamian-registered Oriental Bluebird.(2) http://www.greenpeace.org/canonGreenpeace 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 peaceful future.