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January, 2006


Greenpeace Fingers Japanese "Experimental" Whale Killing

Greenpeace witnesses the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean by ships of the Japanese whaling fleet. Banner on the Nisshun Maru factory ship says "Greenpeace Misleads You."
DEC. 21, Southern Ocean, International: Our two ships, the Esperanza and the Arctic Sunrise, today confronted the Fisheries Agency of Japan whaling fleet and called on it to "Leave the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary immediately." In inflatables carrying banners which read "defend the whales" and "stop the whaling," crew from the two ships declared their intention to stop the hunt.

While our ships were relaying their message, two 'catcher ships' arrived on the scene with dead minke whales hung from their hulls, ready to be transferred to the fleet's factory ship, the Nisshin Maru. However, the Esperanza was blocking access to the Nisshin Maru's stern ramp and one 'catcher' tried to push the Esperanza out of the way twice. The Esperanza pulled back for the crew's safety and no casualties are reported.

"This whale hunt is unnecessary, unjustified, and unwanted," said Expedition leader Shane Rattenbury. In a radio call to the whaling vessels, from the bridge of the Arctic Sunrise, Yuko Hirono, of Greenpeace Japan called upon the whalers to stop killing whales "and leave the internationally recognized Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."

Flying in the face of international protest and repeated calls from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to stop its annual "scientific" whale hunt, this year FAJ has more than doubled its planned catch of minke whales to 935 and added 10 endangered fin whales. Over the next 2 years 40 more fin whales will be added to the annual kill along with 50 humpback whales. Fin whales are the second largest creatures on earth, after blue whales.

"No one is fooled by the giant new "RESEARCH" sign which has been painted on the side of the fleet's factory ship, the Nisshin Maru. Once the whales have been measured and weighed by the 'scientists', the butchers get to work and the whales are cut up and boxed for market," said Rattenbury. "This is all about money and not science."

We are using every available means consistent with our principle of peaceful protest to bring the hunt to an early end and make it the last time the Sanctuary is breached by the whalers.

Greenpeace, the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Humane Society of the US, have been tracking the money behind the whaling fleets. We are currently focusing attention on the US seafood giant Gorton's, the US frozen-seafood market leader. US consumers are familiar with its 'friendly family business' image, but they are not so whale-friendly. Gorton's is owned by Nissui USA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nissui, Japan's second-largest marine products firm, and one-third of owner of Kyodo Senpaku, the company that operates the whaling fleet. Greenpeace is calling on Gorton's to use its influence to convince Nissui to bring an end to whaling.

"In a world were international public opinion is ignored and where high-level diplomatic pressure has failed, Greenpeace hopes that consumers can once and for all demonstrate that there is no profit in whaling," said Rattenbury.

Statement to Nisshin Maru on first encounter:

This is Shane Rattenbury, expedition leader on behalf of the MY Arctic Sunrise and MY Esperanza. Our two vessels and the crew aboard are here to protest your whaling program, and request that you return to Japan immediately. The area in which you are hunting has been designated as the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, designed to help whale populations recover after the devastating commercial whaling of the last century.

The whales in this Sanctuary are protected from commercial whaling. Your so-called scientific whaling has been repeatedly criticized by the International Whaling Commission, and is nothing more than commercial whaling in disguise.

The massive increase in quota this season simply underlines that this is an attempt to restart commercial whaling. You also plan to hunt the endangered fin whale. There is simply no justification for targeting an endangered species.

We respectfully request that you immediately cease your whaling and leave this area. If you do leave now, we will leave with you. If you do not leave, we will have no option but to interfere with your whaling program.

Greenpeace is a non-violent organization. We will do nothing to harm or endanger your vessels, your equipment or your crew. We will, however, use all peaceful means at our disposal to prevent you from killing whales.

We wish you safe sailing.

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