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DECEMBER 8, 1998   6:08 AM
CONTACT: Greenpeace
Peter Pueschel in Noumea mobile 0011 687 772153, or Denise Boyd in Sydney +61 (0) 413 754 910
Greenpeace Claims Victory In Japanese Whaling Protest
NOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA - December 8 - After more than 28 hours Greenpeace activists are claiming victory in 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.

"Greenpeace has taken the decision to stand down as we appreciate the French Government is under pressure to remove us but our argument is not with France. Our argument is with Japanese scientific whaling," said Greenpeace's Peter Pueschel, in Noumea.

"The action to delay the fleet has been successful. Greenpeace has escalated the global debate on the sham of scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

"Greenpeace has shown good faith and commitment through the channels available to us to bring an end to scientific whaling. We ask that that the Australian Government now shows it commitment and does likewise."

France is leading the way and has indicated its intention to approach the Japanese Government directly to halt its whaling program to ensure that 1998 can be the first year since 1904 when no whales will be killed in the Southern Ocean.

Shortly after 9am today the last of the four protesters came down from the two whaling vessels. They had been in place since 5am the previous day.

"Every hour that our activists remained chained to the Japanese catcher vessel and its harpoon was an hour that the harpoon would not kill whales in the Southern Ocean," said Pueschel.

Earlier this week, the owners of the Kyo Maru in Japan and the Japanese Fishery Agency stated that the Japanese fleet would head back to the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary (1) for its annual scientific whale hunt as soon as the fire damage on board the Nisshin Maru could be repaired.

Japan has stepped up its efforts to resume full-scale commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, despite the fact that the area 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 Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. France has consistently opposed Japan's whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, however 1648 whales have been killed in this protected area since late 1994.

"Only last year, whale meat from the Japanese hunt has been sold on the open market for US$ 50 million. It is quite clear that Japan scientific whaling program is nothing more than commercial whaling draped in the cloak of science", said Pueschel.

"Diplomatic pressure is now needed to put an end to this charade and bring Japan in line with the international community, which wants to see whale sanctuaries respected and whales protected rather than hunted."



(1) The Southern Ocean whale sanctuary, which completely surrounds Antarctica, was agreed by the International Whaling Commission in 1994 by a vote of 23 - 1. Only Japan was opposed.



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