Ocean Defenders force whalers to divest

Corporate partners in whaling "moused into submission"

Feature story - 3 April, 2006
You did it! After months of pressure from Ocean Defenders everywhere, our friends at seafood suppliers Gorton's, Sealord and parent company Nissui have withdrawn their active support for Japanese whaling.

Greenpeace activists call on Gorton's to use their influence to stop whaling.

This does not mean an end to the so-called scientific whaling program,but it does mean we've driven home a very important point: whaling isbad for business.

Our campaign has put Nissui in the spotlight, a one-third shareholderin Kyodo Senpaku, which owns and operates the whaling fleet.  Thatimplicated two of the world's largest seafood companies with links to the whalingbusiness: Gortons in the US, wholly owned by Nissui, and Sealord in NewZealand, 50 percent owned by Nissui.  You took our campaign fromthe high seas to the high streets (or the bounding main to the mainstreets, if you're North American). Ocean Defenders from New Zealand toNew York sent thousands of emails to these companies, calling on themto use their influence to end whaling and warning them that consumersdo not support the activities of their parent company.

Globally, Ocean Defenders sent a total of 100,000 emails to Nissui-related companies.  

Nissui lost seafood supply contracts in Argentina after activistsplaced stickers denouncing whaling on Nissui products in supermarketsand sent more than 20,000 emails.

By linking to our Gorton's information page, online activists droveinformation about Gorton's relation to whaling activities up into thenumber two slot for Google searches on "Gortons."

"This is a gorgeous example of the power of consumers in today'sglobalised markets," said Adele Major of the Greenpeace Internationalweb team.  "We've moused them into submission."

Bad for business

Last week, a retreat was announced: Nissui will divest theirsharesin Kyodo Senpaku to "a public interest entity" and will  stopcanning and selling "scientific research" whales on the Japanesemarket.  We'll get back toyou when we know what that "public interest entity" is going to be, butwe suspect thisis code for "government subsidy program."

"While Nissui and the other share holders have taken the cowardly wayout by divesting rather than ending Kyodo Senpaku's whaling, this is avictory for consumers. After only a few months of consumer protest, thefragile commercial interest in whaling has collapsed. Whaling is badfor business," said Shane Rattenbury, our expedition leader in therecent campaign in the Southern Ocean against whaling.

Only profit from whaling: buying the IWC

Whale-killing may be bad for business, but money is still at the heartof the Japanese Government's bid to bring about the return ofcommercial whaling. Despite the overwhelming international rejection ofwhaling, the government of Japan has spent billions of Yen on buyingvotes at the International Whaling Commission. This year the Japanesedelegation believes it will be able to secure a majority of votes endthe international moratorium on commercial whaling.

The question remains: what will the powerful anti-whaling governmentslike Australia, the UK, the US and Germany do at June's IWC meeting,will they stand by and let Japan buy the IWC?