Over 100 Whales Saved by Greenpeace During Confrontation with Japan Whaling Fleet

July 6, 2010

After spending two weeks successfully preventing the Japanese whaling fleet from hunting in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, 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 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?"

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 program, despite promoting Canon as a major sponsor of projects to save endangered species.  Mitarai has the unique ability to influence Japanese business leaders to oppose the senseless hunt, knowing it is bad for Japanese business interests worldwide.

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.

"While the Esperanza must return to port, the campaign to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is far from over," said Greenpeace expedition leader Karli Thomas. "The pressure we have created on the high seas must now be translated into action all over the world."

VVPR info: Steve Smith, (202) 465-5352 or steve.smith@wdc.greenpeace.org

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