The activists chained themselves to the mooring ropes of the container ship NYK ORION, which has meat from 13 endangered fin whales onboard in seven containers. Greenpeace is calling on the authorities to seize the containers and urging the protection of whales at the upcoming meeting of the International Whaling Commission.
Update - Success!!!
Following our protest this morning, Rottderdamport police have promised that a whale meat shipment en route to Japan from Iceland will remain at the port. The ship's owner has decided to off load the Fin whale meat rather than become complicit in the trade in an endangered species.
Check out our blog for a full account of the action.
The whales and the law
The fin whale can grow to 89 feet in length and is the second largest whale, less than 50.000 are estimated to remain in the North Atlantic. The international trade in fin whales and other whales is banned under CITES - the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. The Netherlands is one of the 175 signatories to this treaty. Japan and Iceland refuse to comply with CITES and continue to trade in whale meat. Just two weeks ago, strong lobbying efforts by Japan helped defeat the protection of the endangered bluefin tuna at the CITES meeting in Doha, Qatar.
In June, governments will gather at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Agadir, Morocco to decide whether Japan's commercial whaling will continue. We're urging IWC members to protect whales, not the whaling industry and end trade in whale products. The activists in Rotterdam today are sending a clear message to the Dutch government: if it is involved in whale trade, it is playing a role in the unacceptable downfall of fin whales. Governments this year should protect whales once and for all and bring the senseless whale trade to a close.
Iceland's credibility problem
Iceland's whale hunt will likely continue beyond this year. Just this past Monday, the Icelandic government released the findings of a study into whaling's economic impacts there. Iceland has concluded that there is an economic case for ongoing whaling and that less whales will mean more fish for its commercial fisheries.
In doing so, the Icelandic government is undermining its credibility as a nation with relatively responsible fisheries management and ignoring the reality that the world has moved beyond whaling. However, the report does recommend reassessing the decision to continue whaling should it have negative impacts on the nation's image. By exposing Iceland's whale meat trade today in Rotterdam, we hope to change Iceland's position and end its unnecessary whale hunt.
Activists on the front lines
Meanwhile in Japan, two Greenpeace activists are on trial for acting to expose major corruption in the Japanese government funded whaling program. We believe that Japan should not be rewarded for decades of reprehensible behavior at the IWC and in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Instead, the Commission should demand that the Japanese government reopen the official investigation into our allegations.
The activists today are on the front-lines of the movement to end commercial whaling and trade in whale meat. In a few months, world leaders will again have the chance to end whaling once and for all. Hopefully, they will act to save the whales rather than manage them for the benefit of a few tiny whaling industries.