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Japan whale fleet leaves for Antarctic: Greenpeace

Von: abc (abc@123.cl) [Profil]
Datum: 19.11.2009 19:44
Message-ID: <20091119-184454.723.0@abc.shawnews.vc.shawcable.net>
Newsgroup: alt.animals.whales alt.animals.dolphins alt.animals alt.animal
Japan whale fleet leaves for Antarctic: Greenpeace


November 19, 2009


The Japanese harpoon whaling vessel 'Yushin Maru No. 2' (L) crosses the
bow of Sea Shepherd's 'M/V Steve Irwin' in Antarctica's Southern Ocean
on December 20, 2008.


TOKYO - Japanese whaling ships left port Thursday for Antarctic waters
for their annual hunt of the ocean giants, Greenpeace said, setting the
stage for high-seas confrontations with anti-whaling activists.

The factory ship Nisshin Maru and the smaller Yushin Maru 2 and 3 set
sail from western Innoshima port while the Shonan Maru left eastern
Shiogama harbour for their planned five-month voyage, said the
environmental activist group.

Japan kills hundreds of whales a year in the Southern Ocean Whale
Sanctuary by using a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium on
commercial whaling that allows the sea mammals to be hunted for lethal
"research."

Anti-whaling nations led by Australia and New Zealand and environmental
groups including Greenpeace have long attacked Japan for its annual
whaling expeditions, criticizing them as cruel and unnecessary.

Japan, which says whaling is part of its culture, makes no secret of
the fact that whale meat ends up on its dinner tables.

Japan's fisheries agency declined to confirm the ships' departure,
citing security reasons, and urged anti-whaling activists to refrain
from violence.

"We don't say you shouldn't campaign against whaling, but there is a
strict line between peaceful campaigns and violence," said Shigeki
Takaya, a fisheries agency official in charge of whaling.

Militant activist group the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has
harassed the whalers in recent years, moving their own ships and
inflatable boats between the harpoon ships and the sea mammals.

Last year their ship the "Steve Irwin" collided with a whaling ship.
Activists were also accused of hurling stink bombs and rancid butter at
the whalers, who allegedly deployed ear-piercing sonic weapons against
them.

During their five-month hunt last season, the six Japanese ships caught
679 minke whales and one fin whale -- well below the fleet's planned
haul of between 765 and 935 whales, Japan's fisheries agency said.

The captain of the "Steve Irwin," Canadian Paul Watson, has vowed to
"be their ongoing nightmare every year until they stop their horrific
and unlawful slaughter of the great whales in the Southern Ocean Whale
Sanctuary."

This year the activists say they also plan to deploy a super-fast,
space-age powerboat, the "Ady Gil", formerly known as "Earthrace,"
which jetted round the world in just under 61 days last year, a new
record.

The tri-hulled, kevlar-and-carbon vessel, which can manage speeds up to
50 knots (57 miles/93 kilometres per hour), will chase the harpoon
boats during their annual hunt in the icy seas south of Australia.

"The Ady Gil will be our interceptor. It will be able to latch on to a
harpoon boat and prevent it killing any whales," said Watson. "It
should be able to run rings around them."

Watson said the boat, bankrolled to the tune of one million dollars by
Hollywood businessman Ady Gil, will accompany the "Steve Irwin" during
its three-month campaign from early December.

Norway and Iceland are the only other nations that hunt whales in open
defiance of a 1986 IWC moratorium on commercial whaling.

Japan agreed in 2007 to suspend plans to expand its hunt to include
humpback whales, which are popular with Australian whale-watchers.

A new Japanese centre-left government which took power mid-September
has said it has no plans to change Japan's position on whaling.

Greenpeace has voiced hope that moves to cut government waste will
slash the budget of Japan's Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Fund, which
in turn finances the whaling body, the Institute for Cetacean Research.

The environmental group has lodged a submission recommending that the
whaling programme be cut, labelling it corruption-ridden and a waste of
795 million yen (8.8 million dollars) in government subsidies this
year.

"Japanese taxpayers? money is being squandered on life-support for a
whaling programme that produces virtually nothing of value," said Jun
Hoshikawa, executive director of Greenpeace Japan.

"With well over 9,000 minke whales killed in 22 years and no useful
data produced, Japan's so-called ?research? in the Antarctic is an
international embarrassment."


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