Low Fuel Forces Greenpeace's Ship Back to Port

Feature story - January 28, 2008
Crew from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza watch the Japanese factory ship, Nisshin Maru on the horizon as they have disengaged from the Japanese government whaling fleet due to low fuel reserves in the Southern Ocean. The Esperanza has spent the last two weeks successfully preventing the Japanese whaling fleet from hunting in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The Australian government ship Oceanic Viking is still tracking the fleet.

The Esperanza spent 14 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 program 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 whales campaigner Sakyo Noda said, "we believe that you are under orders from Tokyo not to allow anyone to witness your fake science program. Each of you on board your ship must ask yourself why, if there is nothing wrong with your science program, do you need to hide from public scrutiny and run away from legitimate peaceful protest?"

Greenpeace's peaceful protests in the Southern Ocean have brought the issue of whaling to the forefront of public consciousness in Japan. The Japanese public is now questioning why taxpayer funds are paying for a fake research program that generates thousands of tons of whale meat that goes uneaten, and nothing of significant scientific value.

We leave the Nisshin Maru, but we do not abandon the campaign to end whaling in the Southern Ocean for good. And the whaling fleet will return to Japan with a lot less dead whales than planned for.

We will continue our work on the political arena and in Japan. Hopefully next year there will be no need to send a ship to these waters.