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 user 2008-01-15 at 11:29:00 am Views: 71
  • #19247

    Greenpeace ‘heads off whale ship’
    conservation activists say they have disrupted the Japanese whale hunt
    near Antarctica’s coast by chasing a factory ship out of the whaling

    Crew from
    protest ship Esperanza said they were maintaining the chase as the
    whalers cannot hunt at the same time.A spokesman for Japan’s whale hunt
    said Greenpeace’s actions were illegal and people should not treat them
    as heroes.Japan’s whaling fleet plans to kill about 900 minke whales
    and 50 fin whales by mid-April.The hunt is part of what it calls a
    scientific research programme, permitted under a clause in
    International Whaling Commission rules.But Australia and other nations
    say the same research goals could be achieved using non-lethal methods,
    and call the research programme a front for commercial whaling.The hunt
    has suspended plans to kill 50 humpback whales, amid a storm of
    international criticism.

    Hunting the hunters
    A number of
    ships are in southern waters on the trail of the hunters, including an
    Australian patrol ship that plans to video the whalers for a possible
    legal challenge, and the Steve Irwin, belonging to the radical Sea
    Shepherd Conservation Society.A schism has emerged between the protest
    groups as Greenpeace has pledged to take non-violent action to prevent
    the hunt, while Sea Shepherd has suggested more direct action to “shut
    the criminals down”.”I have no doubt about who they are running from,”
    said Capt Paul Watson, of the Steve Irwin. “They know we’re not trying
    to catch them to take their picture.”The Greenpeace vessel was the
    first to catch up with the processing ship Nisshin Maru on Saturday,
    causing the six-vessel whaling fleet to “scatter and run”, say the
    protesters.The whalers’ hunting vessels cannot operate when the Nisshin
    Maru is not in a position to process the kill.

    The Japan Whaling
    Association called on Greenpeace to keep clear of the fleet.”Past
    activities of Greenpeace have been responsible for vessel collisions
    that risk the lives and safety of our researchers and crew and are
    illegal under international maritime law,” said association president
    Keiichi Nakajima in a statement.”I urge Greenpeace to desist from any
    harassment of the research vessels and to keep a safe distance.”The
    BBC’s Jonah Fisher, who is on the Esperanza, says the Japanese may be
    playing a long-term tactical game as they know that Greenpeace has
    limited fuel.A week in the open sea exhausting the environmentalists
    would only be a brief interlude in the whaling season and would also
    deny Greenpeace the chance to film the whalers at work, he said.