WE CONDEMN VIOLENCE IN THE SOUTHERN OCEAN

by Melanie Duchin

February 11, 2007

This afternoon (Feb 12) at 4:55pm the Esperanza received a distress call from the Japanese whaling fleet’s unarmed sighting vessel, the Kaiko Maru.  

The Esperanza offered immediate assistance, heading at full speed to its position.

According to the Rescue Coordination Center of New Zealand, first reports stated the Kaiko Maru was "under attack." Later reports claimed a collision between the Sea Shepherd vessel Robert Hunter and the Kaiko Maru, with the Robert Hunter receiving a hole in its hull above the water line and the Kaiko Maru  suffering unspecified damage to its propeller.

We completely condemn any violent action by anyone. Potentially endangering lives in the middle of the Southern Ocean is completely unacceptable.  In addition, while these three vessels are engaged in a potentially life threatening incident, just over the horizon hunter ships with grenade-tipped harpoons could be killing whales. That is where the focus should be.

At approximately 6:15pm, the Rescue Coordination Center of New Zealand requested that the Esperanza "stand down,” which means we could stay in the area but not go near any of the ships.  We informed the Rescue Center that we would remain within VHF range in case assistance was needed.

Just now, at 8:15pm, the Rescue Coordination Center of New Zealand declared an end to the mayday by sending a fax that read, “seelonce feenee.” That’s the phonetic spelling for the French phrase that means  “end of silence. ”  In ship communication-speak, that means “enforced radio silenced is finished.” In plain English, it means the mayday is over and they’ve called it a day.

We now go back to the reason we came here: to stop the Japanese government from killing whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Melanie

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