Greenpeace halts whalers from refuelling in Antarctic


Wellington : Eleven days after stopping Japanese ships catching whales in the Antarctic by chasing them in a protest boat, Greenpeace Tuesday claimed that it had prevented the factory ship from taking on fuel.

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Activists on the Greenpeace ship Esperanza manoeuvred an inflatable boat between the Nisshin Maru and the Panamanian-registered tanker Oriental Bluebird, preventing them from getting alongside to refuel, according to a statement released in New Zealand.

The statement said that Greenpeace campaigner Sakyo Noda radioed a message to the Oriental Bluebird in Japanese, Spanish and English, telling it to leave Antarctic waters immediately.

“Your presence here is unwanted and a threat to the pristine Antarctic environment which has been declared a particularly sensitive sea area by the International Maritime Organisation and a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science by the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty,” the message said.

It said a refuelling operation would be contrary to the spirit of the treaty and Japan should comply with an annex on the prevention of environmental pollution.

Greenpeace said that while the Japanese government issued permits for six so-called scientific whaling ships to hunt in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary, the Oriental Bluebird was not authorised to be there.

It accused the Panamanian government of effectively taking part in Antarctic whaling, while taking a position in defence of whales at meetings of the International Whaling Commission and elsewhere.

The Japanese fleet is in the Southern Ocean with the aim of killing 935 minke whales and 50 endangered fin whales for so-called scientific research programmes.

New Zealand and Australia, which have led international protests against Japan’s annual whale hunt, claim it is ill-disguised commercial whaling in defiance of an IWC moratorium.