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Japanese Whaling fleet Found by Greenpeace in Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

by Takver - Sydney Indymedia
The Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza has located the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean whaling sanctuary. The whaling factory ship, the Nisshin Maru has taken flight and is being chased by the Esperanza. Sea Shepard ship Steve Irwin is also sailing towards the Whaling Fleet. While the factory ship flees it means the hunter/killer ships cannot hunt whales and transfer them to the factory ship for processing.

The Japanese whaling fleet have a quota to slaughter 935 minke whales and 50 endangered fin whales this season and are likely to be about midway through their catch.

Karli Thomas, the expedition leader on the Esperanza spoke to the crew on of the Nisshin Maru on the radio saying:

"Our vessel and crew are here in the Southern Ocean to condemn your hunt, which includes endangered species, and to insist that you return to port immediately. We represent millions of people around the world who want to see an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We join with the majority of people in Japan who do not support whaling on the high seas. (...)"

"Your so-called scientific whaling is a hoax. It has been dismissed as useless by the International Whaling Commission" she said.

Here is how finding the fleet was described by Irene on the Esperanza crew weblog:

"Around midnight a few dots appeared on our radar screens, moving much faster than the other icebergs. The night was foggy with poor visibility, and "quiet excitement" is how I would describe the atmosphere on the bridge. When the fleet discovered we were here they immediately took flight. I went down to the control room for a while, to have a cup of coffee with Bent who rules over the machines. When I came back up on the bridge we had met the catcher boat Yushin Maru. We are currently following the mothership, the Nisshin Maru. We have tried to call her on channel 16 but got no answer."

"As long as the fleet is on the run they cannot hunt, but if they resume whaling our intention is to take direct non-violent action to protect the whales...."

Greenpeace are intending to place themselves between the hunter ships and the whales using small fast zodiac inflatables. This is the tactic pioneered by Bob Hunter and Paul Watson (now with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) in 1975 against the Russian whaling fleet.

Greenpeace will not share the co-ordinates of the whaling fleet with the Sea Shepherd vessel, Steve Irwin, who are also intent on disrupting and stopping the whale hunt. According to Captain Paul Watson on board the Steve Irwin "We know where the Greenpeace ship Esperanza is and if Greenpeace is in contact with the Japanese fleet, Sea Shepherd will be there as quickly as we can cover the distance between our two positions," he said.

Japan is whaling in the southern ocean whaling sanctuary under a scientific loophole of the International Whaling commission. They are intent on a process of "normalization" whereby commercial whaling can be resumed. Consumption of whale meat in Japan is falling and stockpiles are growing.

“The Japanese people clearly do not support the whaling that is being carried out in their name, and with their tax money”, said Junichi Sato, whales project leader for Greenpeace Japan. “It is time for Prime Minister Fukuda to put an end to Japan’s whaling scandal, and to recall the fleet home to Japan.”

The Australian Government customs and Fisheries patrol vessel Oceanic Viking departed the Stirling Naval Base in Fremantle, Western Australia on the 8th January to observe and document the Japanese whaling operation for 20 days in preperation for international legal action against the disguised commercial whaling by Japan. It is the first time a nation has sent a vessel for surveillance in the southern ocean in regard to whaling, although Australia does regularly patrol its deep sea fisheries and undertake pursuits and prosecution of illegal fishing in its maritime economic zones.

The delayed departure of the Oceanic Viking and delayed implementation of surveillance flights was heavily criticised by Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd.


Photos (C) GREENPEACE/REZAC 2008. Lead Photo detail:

SOUTHERN OCEAN ESPERANZA 12 JANUARY 2008 - Greenpeace Japan campaigner Sakyo Noda (Karli Thomas, Greenpeace campaigner behind) contacts the Japanese government whaling fleet via radio from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza condeming the hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary after the first sighting of the Japanese whaling fleet. Following a 10-day search in Antarctic waters, the Greenpeace ship Esperanza today confronted JapanÕs whaling fleet which immediately took flight from the Esperanza. The Greenpeace activists will continue to pursue it take peaceful direct action against the fleet if it restarts whaling.
§Nisshin Maru fleeing Esperanza
by Takver - Sydney Indymedia
SOUTHERN OCEAN ESPERANZA 12 JANUARY 2008 - The Japanese government whaling vessel Nisshin Maru flees from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Greenpeace activists will take peaceful direct action against the fleet if it restarts whaling. (C) GREENPEACE/REZAC 2008
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