A Whale of a day

Feature story - 18 January, 2006
With all the action in the Southern Ocean, it's good to remember that people all over the world -- our ocean defenders -- are working hard to defend our oceans back here on solid ground (and in cyberspace). The 17th of January was a big day with governments, activists, supermarkets and even Mother Nature helping to defend our oceans.

Greenpeace supporters take symbolic action against Japan's whaling in the Southern Ocean.

We have been joined by 17 governments in a call to the government ofJapan to "cease its lethal scientific research on whales and assure thereturn of the vessels" from the Southern Ocean whale Sanctuary.

The 17 governments comprehensively denounced the so-called scientifichunt as a sham, noting that "Japan is now killing more whales in theAntarctic every year than it killed for scientific research in the 31years prior to the introduction of the moratorium on commercialwhaling." They further express "grave concerns" that the hunt "willundermine the long-term viability" of both fin and humpback whales.

Let's not forget that along with pressure from governments, globalcorporations like Nissui also have a role to play in bringing an end tothe hunt. Japan'ssecond-largest marine products company, Nissui owns one third of KyodoSenpaku, which operates the whaling fleet. We are urging people to tellNissui that "whaling is bad for business" and use its influence to stop whaling now.

In Germany, a 20 ton fin whale found dead in the Baltic Sea was movedto the Japanese Embassy in Berlin to make the point "you don't needharpoons to study dead whales". The unfortunate whale appears to havelost itself in the Baltic Sea and starved to death, but the realscientists at the it's final destination - the German OceanographicMuseum - will be able to confirm this.

Meanwhile in the UK, we had climbers scaling a building at theheadquarters of ASDA - the supermarket chain owned by Walmart. Scoring just one point out of 20, ASDA came rock bottom of our recent league table with the least sustainable seafood policy of any UK supermarket. It was found to be selling at least 13 species on Greenpeace's 'danger list' including swordfish, marlin and Atlantic cod.

Climbers hung a massive banner with the ASDA logo and catchphrase 'That'sASDA Price' against a backdrop of mutilated and wasted fish caught asbycatch during destructive fishing. At the same time volunteers dressedas 'fishmongers,' accompanied by a mobile advertising van displayingthe same billboard poster, toured the city, visiting one of ASDA'slocal stores to deliver the message to the supermarket's customers.

The action was a huge success. Within a hour of arriving at ASDA House,campaigners were invited inside to discuss policy. ASDA  agreednot only to publish a public policy on sourcing sustainable seafoodwithin the next six weeks, but also to remove skate, dogfish (huss),dover sole and ling from its shelves with immediate effect. They'vealso agreed to look closely at taking similar action on swordfish andmarlin within the next six weeks.

Video Defending Our Oceans: You can help! screened in Dam Square, Amsterdam.

Other events around the world starred the whale fluke -- on thebeach inNew Zealand, outside the White House in Washington DC and in Toronto, Canada. A giant video-wall was set up in DamSquare, Amsterdam playing our "Defending Our Oceans: You can help!"footage. Everywhere people are being asked to sign up to be an OceanDefender - simply by adding your name to this very long list you canmake a difference! 

To complete the day, Mother Nature lent a helping hand, with atrocious weather conditions ensuringthere was no whaling in the Southern Ocean Whaling Sanctuary.

Take action

Tell Nissui Europe to use its influence to stop whaling.

Support us

We rely on individual donations to fund our work challenging the whalers on the high seas and their corporate backers in the world of commerce. Give today to help save whales.