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DECEMBER 7, 1998   8:06 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Greenpeace
Cristina Mormorunni or Peter Pueschel in Noumea on mobile phone 00(11) 687 772153
Luisa Colasimone, Greenpeace Communications Amsterdam on mobile +31 6 53 66 29 70
 
Greenpeace Continues Japanese Whaling Protest Overnight
 
NOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA - December 7 - After more than 14 hours Greenpeace activists are continuing their peaceful protest to prevent the departure of the Japanese whale catcher Kyo Maru No 1 and the whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru from the port of Noumea in New Caledonia.

After 14 hours the activist on the anchor chain of the Kyo Maru No 1 was replaced with a second activist. After this occurred, the crew of the Kyo Maru No 1 turned a water hose on the new protester, and began lowering the anchor chain to the water line, recklessly endangering the protester.

At present, the activist is unharmed but the crew have now turned a spotlight on him . The anchor is now just on the water line. There is a safety boat in attendance.

Letters have been sent by Greenpeace offices around the world demanding the Japanese authorities guarantee that the fleet will not head back to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to resume whale hunting.

Just before dawn two Greenpeace climbers occupied the anchor chain and the harpoon of the Kyo Maru No 1. Another two climbers occupied the mooring lines between the Nisshin Maru and the dock. They hung a banner stating "Stop Killing Whales". Later in the morning divers tied steel chains around the propeller of the Kyo Maru, stopping it from being able to depart.

In the afternoon, local activists joined the protest on the wharf of Noumea. They have protested the whaling ships since their arrival in New Caledonia last week.

"Whales need global sanctuaries, not hunting," said John Frizell of Greenpeace. "Since 1994, Japan has consistently ignored the internationally recognized Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and continued to hunt whales in this protected area to supply their market with whale meat. This outrageous practice must be abandoned immediately".

Kyodo Senpaku, the owners of the Kyo Maru No 1, and the Japanese Fisheries Agency announced last week that the catcher boat, together with two other whale catchers, will resume whale hunting in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary early in the new year, as soon as its damaged factory ship, the Nisshin Maru can be repaired. The Nisshin Maru was crippled by a fire, which burned for several days, leaving the vessel unable to move. It was towed to the French territory of New Caledonia for initial repairs.

Japan has stepped up its efforts to resume full-scale commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, despite the fact that is was made into an international sanctuary for whales in 1994 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), following a proposal by France, forbidding all commercial whaling in the area. Japan was the only member of the IWC to vote against the Antarctic whale sanctuary. France has consistently opposed Japan's whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Japanese officials claim that the Antarctic whale hunt is for scientific research but every year the whale meat is sold on the open market for tens of millions of dollars. The 1700 tons of whale meat from last year's "research" hunt sold in Japanese fish markets for an estimated US$ 50 million.

"To call this scientific research is an insult to science," said Frizell. "There is no need to kill whales to study them. We have been campaigning against whaling for 25 years and we remain committed to ensuring that commercial whaling draped in the cloak of "science" is stopped".

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