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Whaling Protests continue despite Reprieval for Humpbacks

by Takver - Sydney Indymedia
The Japanese Government has announced a suspension of the slaughter of 50 humpback whales due to increasing worldwide attention on the Japanese commercial whaling operation masquerading as a scientific expedition. The United States brokered the deal, which Japan agreed to conditionally that the International Whaling Commission (IWC) reinstates its original task of whale resource management. Japan still intends to continue to kill 50 endangered Fin whales and 935 piked (minke) whales this season.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief executive officer Steve Shallhorn said to reporters in Sydney "I think this is a significant climb down for the Japanese government. Their intention has been to increase the number of whales and the number of species ... so this would not have been easy for them."

Australia's Ambassador to Tokyo, Murray McLean, led a diplomatic protest of more than 30 countries at the office of Japan's Foreign Ministry on Friday 21 December. A written statement, or demarche, was delivered to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to Japan's Fisheries Agency by the Australian ambassador on behalf of Australia, the UK and the European Union and other anti-whaling countries. It called on Japan to "cease all its lethal scientific research on whales, and assure the immediate return of the vessels which are implementing JARPA II".

"The note is a significant escalation of world opposition to Japanese whaling in the southern ocean. The number of countries to sign the protest note is quite high and includes all of the major countries who are members of the International Whaling Commission." said Mr Shallhorn. "Yesterday's statement by the cabinet reaffirms what we have been saying for many years which is that the hunt in the southern ocean is a commercial hunt and that is the Japanese policy," he said.

Greenpeace alledge that Japan is planning the construction of a new Whaling factory ship. The new ship may have the capacity to hold 6,000 tons of whale meat and be double or triple the size of the present factory ship the Nisshin Maru. The new ship could cost between 14 billion and 21 billion yen (US$125 million to US$188 million), and its contruction would probably be Government financed.

The New Zealand Greens have called on the Labour Party Government of Helen Clark to send a navy frigate to observe the operations of the Japanese whaling fleet, but the Government have said their formal protest with the Australian Government is sufficient. New Zealand Defence force planes will periodically monitor the Japanese whaling fleet.

An Australian Fisheries vessel, the Oceanic Viking, is due to depart Fremantle to track and observe the whaling fleet and document the whale slaughter for international legal action to be brought by the Australian Government against Japan. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is already searching for the whalers in the southern ocean but is hindered by not having helicopter for wider searching operations. The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin is now returning to Melbourne due December 24 to refuel and pick up replacement parts t repair a piston on one of its two engines, before returning to the Southern Ocean. Lone New Zealand sailor, David Taylor is also in the southern ocean protesting Japanese whaling in his sailing yacht.


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