Greenpeace Ship Heads to Japan to Continue Whaling Campaign
Sydney, Australia — The Greenpeace ship Esperanza will spend 48 hours re-supplying in Australia, after 42 days at sea and then sail directly for Japan to continue to campaign for an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean.
The crew of the Esperanza spent over a week on stand by to assist the fire-disabled whaling factory ship, Nisshin Maru in the Ross Sea in Antarctica last month, to ensure the safety of the vessel and its crew as well as witness any possible environmental impacts from the fire. The Greenpeace ship then escorted the entire whaling fleet out of Antarctic waters.
“Whaling on the high seas will only stop when the Japanese government commits to ending it,” said Expedition Leader Karli Thomas. “What we saw in the Southern Ocean should be a clear signal to the government and people of Japan that this must be the last season that a whaling fleet goes to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”
It is reported that the government of Japan intends to repair the Nisshin Maru and continue to whale later this year, including plans to increase to fifty the number of endangered fin whales hunted and add fifty threatened humpback whales to the quota of 935 minke whales for the Southern Ocean in nine months time.
According to a recent survey, two-thirds of Japanese people do not support what their government is doing in the Southern Ocean.
“While we were with the disabled fleet we generated a level of debate on this issue in Japan that has been unprecedented, questioning the validity of the government whaling programme. However, it has become obvious that the Japanese government wants to give the incident as low a profile as possible,” said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan whales campaign coordinator.
This is the second time the Nisshin Maru had a fire on board in the last nine years. The cause of the blaze has not been disclosed, despite the fact that resulted in the death of one of the crew.
“We began a positive dialogue from ship to ship in the Southern Ocean during the emergency with the Nisshin Maru and we plan to continue and broaden that dialogue from ship to shore when the Esperanza comes to Japan.” Sato added.
Greenpeace also plans to invite representatives of the Fisheries Agency of Japan and the Institute for Cetacean Research on board the Esperanza when she arrives in Tokyo.
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