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 user 2007-02-21 at 10:47:00 am Views: 54
  • #17524

    Japan turns down Greenpeace help
    has rejected a plea by New Zealand to allow a Greenpeace vessel to tow
    its stricken whaling ship out of Antarctic waters.Officials said there
    was no threat of environmental damage from the Nisshin Maru, which has
    been disabled by fire, despite earlier fears of oil leakage.New Zealand
    has been calling for the ship to be moved to prevent any pollution of
    the pristine area.Meanwhile one crew-member was confirmed dead in the
    fire.The Japanese whalers have had a number of confrontations at sea
    with anti-whaling activists in recent days, but the authorities have
    ruled out any connection between the protests and the fire.

    ‘Dead in the water’
    fire broke out on board the Nisshin Maru – an 8,000-tonne processing
    ship – just before daybreak on Thursday.The body of seaman Kazutaka
    Makita, who went missing when the fire broke out, was found on
    Saturday.Fisheries Agency official Hideki Moronuki told Reuters news
    agency that the fire had been almost put out, but it would be a while
    before it became clear how badly the engines had been affected and
    whether the ship would be able to sail.Earlier, New Zealand’s
    Conservation Minister Chris Carter said the ship was “dead in the
    water”.He pointed out that the ship was just 60 miles (100 km) from the
    world’s biggest Adelie penguin colony at Cape Adare.There are fears
    that it could start leaking fuel oil into the Ross Sea and damage the
    immediate environment.Greenpeace urged Japan to accept its offer. “This
    is not a time to play politics from behind a desk in Tokyo,” said Karli
    Thomas, from on board the Esperanza.

    But Japanese officials said there was no immediate cause for concern.
    no threat of oil leakage at all, and no worries over environmental
    pollution from the Nisshin Maru,” said Kenji Masuda, of the Fisheries
    Agency.Mr Moronuki said that if the ship failed to set sail on its own,
    it would get help from a Japanese tanker, which is alongside it.The
    whaling fleet left for the Antarctic in December, and planned to hunt
    850 minke whales and 10 fin whales until mid-March.It has been involved
    in several clashes with the protest group the Sea Shepherd, leading
    Japanese officials to accuse the activists of behaving like pirates.The
    Sea Shepherd’s vessels were heading back to port for refuelling when
    the fire on the Nisshin Maru broke out.The ICR admits the whaling
    mission is now up in the air while it waits to see if the Nisshin Maru
    - the only ship in the fleet able to process whale carcasses – is able
    to continue.