Greenpeace blocks whalers from refueling in Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

    TORONTO, Jan. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Southern Ocean - Activists from the
Greenpeace ship Esperanza today blocked the Japanese whaling fleet's factory
ship, the Nisshin Maru, from being refueled in Antarctic waters by the
Panamanian-registered vessel, the Oriental Bluebird. This is the eleventh day
Greenpeace has successfully prevented the fleet from killing whales in the
Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
    The activists, in a non-violent protest against the whaling fleet's
activities in the Southern Ocean, placed their inflatable boat between the
factory ship and the refueling vessel, preventing them from coming alongside
to refuel.
    In a statement radioed to the Oriental Bluebird, in Japanese, Spanish and
English, Japan whales campaigner Sakyo Noda said, "The Oriental Bluebird must
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 Organization and
a 'natural reserve, devoted to peace and science' by the Environmental
Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty. A refueling operation within the treaty area
would be contrary to the spirit of the Antarctic Treaty. Japan, as a party to
the treaty, must comply with the letter and the spirit of the treaty and not
refuel within the treaty area and comply with Annex IV on the Prevention of
Environmental Pollution".
    While Japan's government issues permits for six so-called 'scientific
whaling' ships to hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, the
Panamanian-flagged Oriental Bluebird has no such paperwork. Despite Japan's
status as signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, it consistently fails to lodge
required environmental impact assessments for the whaling fleet with the
Antarctic Treaty Secretariat. The Panamanian-registered Oriental Bluebird also
lacks this documentation, designed to ensure protection of the environment.
    "The Panamanian government, which takes a position in defence of whales
at the International Whaling Commission and elsewhere is now in effect taking
part in the whale hunt in the Antarctic whale sanctuary by allowing the
Oriental Bluebird to illegally join the Japanese whaling fleet under the
Panamanian flag," said Panamanian activist Mir Rodriguez, from on board the
Esperanza. "Panama must immediately either recall its flag from the Oriental
Bluebird, or order it to stop supporting the whaling fleet."

For further information:

For further information: Jane Story, Greenpeace Canada communications
officer, (416) 930-9055; Photographs and video footage are available

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