Over 100 Whales Saved by Greenpeace - Low Fuel Forces Esperanza Back to Port

Press release - January 26, 2008
After spending two weeks successfully preventing the Japanese whaling fleet from hunting in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary (1), the Greenpeace ship Esperanza is running low on fuel and must return to port. The Australian government ship Oceanic Viking is still tracking the fleet.

The Japanese government whaling vessel Nisshin Maru flees from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary during a 4300 nautical mile chase that lasted more than 14 days.

In a dramatic 4300 nautical mile chase, the Esperanza spent fourteen days chasing the whaling fleet's factory ship, the Nisshin Maru. Without the factory ship, the remaining hunter vessels have been unable to operate - bringing the entire whaling programme to a halt.

It is estimated that the fleet 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. However, the Japanese government said they would not whale while Greenpeace was with the Nisshin Maru.

In a statement radioed in Japanese and English to the Nisshin Maru, Greenpeace Japan campaigner Sakyo Noda said "we believe that you are under orders from Tokyo not to allow anyone to witness your fake science programme. Each of you on board your ship must ask yourself why, if there is nothing wrong with your science programme, do you need to hide from public scrutiny and run away from legitimate peaceful protest?" Noda called on the fleet to abandon the hunt and return to Japan.

In just 24 hours, more than 20,000 people have emailed Fujio Mitarai, the CEO of Canon, demanding that he use his unique position as head of the Japanese Business Federation, contributing to the growing demands on the government to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean. Mr Mitarai refused a Greenpeace request to reconsider his company's failure to condemn Japan's whaling programme, despite promoting Canon as a major sponsor of projects to save endangered species. (2)

Greenpeace's peaceful protests in the Southern Ocean in opposition to the whale hunt have received considerable attention in Japan with both the public and media beginning to question why vast amounts of taxpayers' money is being squandered on fake research to generate tonnes of whale meat that no one wants to eat.

"While the Esperanza must return to port, the campaign to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is far from over," said expedition leader Karli Thomas. "The pressure we have created on the high seas must now be translated into action by companies like Canon, governments around the world, and the Japanese people thelmselves".

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)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.

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