ACT NOW TO PROTECT ANTARCTICA

by Melanie Duchin

February 21, 2007

The crippled Nisshin Maru and other whaling vessels Copy, sign and fax the letter below to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, or use the text as the basis for your own letter.  Here’s why:

Today marks one week since the Nisshin Maru first caught fire, tragically killing one crew member and disabling the ship here in the Ross Sea.  The whaling fleet has given us daily progress reports on their repairs, but every day it is the same: we are told they are working to fix the Nisshin Maru’s engines, they would like the Nisshin Maru to sail out of here under its own steam, but there is more work to do so they cannot say when that will be.

Enough is enough. An entire week has passed and the Nisshin Maru is still sitting here, posing an unacceptable risk to human life and the pristine Antarctic environment.

It’s time to get the Nisshin Maru and the whaling fleet out of here.  The Japanese government’s decision to let the Nisshin Maru sit here for over a week is irresponsible and shows a lack of concern for the lives of those who remain on the whaling ships as well as the Antarctic environment. The Antarctic is a global common and is protected by the Antarctic Treaty System. As a signatory, the Japanese government has a responsibility to minimize and hopefully eliminate harm to the Antarctic environment.

The U.S. is also a signatory to the treaty that protects Antarctica, yet the U.S. State Department said today that it would leave the matter of the Nisshin Maru to the government of New Zealand.  The U.S. cannot sign a treaty and then choose whether it will act to enforce it or not.  The Bush administration has a legal and moral responsibility to intervene and do all that it can to pressure the Japanese government to get the Nisshin Maru out of the Antarctic.  Yet the U.S. has said it will stand by and defer this whole matter to the government of New Zealand.

The letter to fax to Secretary of State Rice follows. Please let her know that you care about Antarctica, and that you want the whaling fleet out of the Antarctic, for good.

Thank you.

Melanie

The Hon. Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Via Fax: 202-647-2283

Dear Secretary Rice,

I am writing to request that you take urgent action to get the stricken whaling vessel, Nisshin Maru, out of Antarctica as soon as possible. The Nisshin Maru caught fire on February 15 and tragically, one crew member was killed. Since then the ship has been disabled deep in the Ross Sea with a reported 1,000 to 1,300 metric tons of fuel on board.

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza rushed to the Nisshin Maru’s assistance and has been standing by since arriving on February 17. All of the Esperanza’s offers to tow the stricken vessel out of the Antarctic have been refused.   The Japanese government must act to get the Nisshin Maru out of the Antarctic, whether it’s with a tow from Greenpeace or a tow from other vessels in the whaling fleet.

I am deeply disappointed that the U.S. has deferred the issue of the Nisshin Maru to the government of New Zealand.   Antarctica is a global common, and moreover, the U.S. has signed treaties designed to protect it.

I urge you to uphold the spirit and intent of the Antarctic treaty by doing all that you can to urge the Japanese government to get the Nisshin Maru out Antarctica as soon as possible to reduce and hopefully eliminate any further risk to human life and the sensitive marine environment.  The Japanese government’s whaling program threatens all marine life in Antarctica and therefore, this season must be the last.

Sincerely,

Your Name Here

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