Fearing US reaction, Japanese whaling fleet hides in port

Feature story - 16 November, 2007
The Japanese whaling fleet has delayed its departure to the Southern Ocean for its annual whale hunt to avoid political embarrassment when Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda meets with US President George W. Bush.

Greenpeace activists hold a banner with an question mark beside the Nisshin Maru 'Research' factory ship, demonstrating the fake nature of the whaling operation. Greenpeace is using every peaceful available means to bring the hunt to an early end and make it the last time the Sanctuary is breached by the whalers.

Japan's annual Southern Ocean whale hunt is conducted under the guise of science but has been condemned internationally. This season, Japan aims to kill more than 1,000 whales, including 50 endangered fin whales and, for the first time in 20 years, 50 threatened humpback whales will also be harpooned.

The International Whaling Commission has called for an end to the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary under Japan's whaling programme.

Our ship the Esperanza is currently positioned just outside Japanese territorial waters and will be following the Japanese whaling fleet after it leaves the port of Shimonseki for its passage towards the Antarctic.

"The Japanese government's 'scientific' whaling programme is a sham and a source of diplomatic tension between Japan and countries that support whale conservation, like the United States. Whaling has no place in Antarctica - it's a place of peace and science, and this is not science," said Karli Thomas, expedition leader aboard the Esperanza.

An opinion poll carried out in Japan by the Nippon Research Centre, in June 2006, showed that 95 per cent of Japanese people never or rarely eat whale meat. More than two-thirds of Japanese do not support whaling on the high seas.

Another study recently conducted by Julia Bowett, a PhD student from the University of Tasmania, found that among Japanese students approximately 65 percent agreed with the view that scientific research on whales should only use non-lethal methods.

To prove that you don't need to kill whales for research, Greenpeace is collaborating with a team of scientists on the ' Great Whale Trail' project.

Data from satellite tagging of whales, harmless skin biopsies and fluke identification has already yielded valuable information about the migration patterns of threatened humpback populations, without a single harpoon being fired.

We will display the location of the whaling fleet as it is tracked south by the Esperanza on the same map on which it is tracking humpback migration routes from their breeding grounds in New Caledonia and the Cook Islands.

"Japan's whalers are deceiving the Japanese public by painting the word 'research' on their ships," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales Project leader. "Real scientists don't need to kill whales to study them. This is commercial whaling poorly dressed up as science."

"The Japanese Government should already know that information about whales can be gained without killing them. The Antarctic whale hunt is an expensive waste of Japanese taxpayers' money and goes against public opinion in Japan and overseas. The time has come for the Japanese government to end this hunt."

Japan has close to 4,000 tons of whale meat from its 'scientific' whaling programme in cold storage - uneaten, unsold, and unwanted.

Sign Up

Get your Free Whale Mail delivered straight to your inbox with all the latest news about our how you can help defend the whales.


You can create your own fundraising page to help end whaling in the Southern Ocean forever.