Greenpeace Ship, Rainbow Warrior, Sails to the Whales of Iceland

Following Iceland's announcement on August 6, 2003 that it is resuming whaling, Greenpeace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior is en route to Iceland to campaign against the hunting of minke whales, which the government is attempting to justify on so called scientific grounds. The Rainbow Warrior has been diverted from the Mediterranean and is scheduled to arrive in just over two weeks

Following Iceland's announcement on August 6, 2003 that it is resuming whaling, Greenpeace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior is en route to Iceland to campaign against the hunting of minke whales, which the government is attempting to justify on so called scientific grounds. The Rainbow Warrior has been diverted from the Mediterranean and is scheduled to arrive in just over two weeks.

The first voyage of the Rainbow Warrior in 1978 was to Iceland to confront commercial whalers. Greenpeace is now returning to support local groups who also fear the Government's announcement is a first step towards a resumption of full-scale whaling.

"No science justifies the killing of whales. This is simply an underhanded attempt by the Icelandic government to resume commercial whaling," said Gerd Leipold, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. "Whaling is part of Iceland's past, and must remain so."

Gerd Leipold campaigned in Iceland 25 years ago to stop the practice, and will be returning with the Rainbow Warrior to meet local people and discuss with them the way forward. Many local groups in Iceland have already expressed serious concerns about the Iceland government's plans. One whale watching station flew the national flag at half-mast the day the resumption was announced. The whale watching industry in Iceland generates significant income, which would be seriously threatened by commercial hunting.

It is estimated that about a dozen whale watching companies have been started in Iceland in the last 10 years, generating $8.5 million in 2001. Commercial whaling generated $3 to 4 million between 1986-1989 when commercial hunts were stopped. (Associated Press, April 6, 2003).

Many countries recognize that commercial whaling is unsustainable and conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises is essential to the health of the oceans. Today whales continue to face a complex array of threats posed by continued commercial whaling, toxic chemicals, global warming, ozone depletion, noise pollution, over-fishing and ship strikes.

"A clear message must go to the Icelandic government -- globally, as well as directly from the people of Iceland -- that this will not be tolerated." continued Liephold. "Iceland can make more money from whale watching than whale killing and should be doing all it can to protect those whales in its seas."

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