Greenpeace confronts Japanese whalers in Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

    SOUTHERN OCEAN, Jan. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Following a 10-day search in
Antarctic waters, the Greenpeace ship Esperanza today confronted Japan's
whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
    The whaling fleet immediately took flight from the Esperanza, which is
now in high-speed pursuit. While the fleet is on the run, the whalers are
unable to hunt. If they try to start whaling, the Esperanza's international
crew of activists will take non-violent direct action to prevent the Japanese
government's slaughter of nearly 1,000 whales, including 50 endangered fin
whales (1).
    In a statement radioed to the whaling fleet, in Japanese and English,
Greenpeace Japan Whales campaigner Sakyo Noda said, "Our vessel and crew are
here in the Southern Ocean to condemn your hunt, which includes endangered
species, and to insist that you leave the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, and
return to port immediately. Your so-called scientific whaling is a hoax, and
has been dismissed as useless by the International Whaling Commission. Modern
scientific research on whales does not require killing them."
    When the whaling fleet left its home port of Shimonoseki in November, the
government of Japan confirmed the sole purpose behind its so-called science
programme is to bring about a return to commercial whaling.
    "The Japanese people clearly do not support the whaling (2) that is being
carried out in their name, and with their tax money", said Junichi Sato,
whales project leader for Greenpeace Japan. "It is time for Prime Minister
Fukuda to put an end to Japan's whaling scandal, and to recall the fleet home
to Japan."
    This is Greenpeace's ninth expedition to the Southern Ocean to defend the
whales, and the second in the last twelve months. In February 2007, the
Esperanza assisted and then escorted the /Nisshin Maru/ out of Antarctic
waters, following a fire that left the whaling factory ship disabled, and one
crewman dead.

    Notes to Editors:

    A Canadian is serving as 2nd mate on the Esperanza and is available for
live interviews.

    1. The whaling fleet has a self-appointed quota of 935 minke whales, and
50 endangered fin whales. In December 2007, following mounting international
pressure, the Japanese government dropped its quota of 50 threatened humpback

    2. June 2006 Independent opinion poll by Nippon Research Centre

    Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses
non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems to
force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

For further information:

For further information: Jane Story, Greenpeace Canada communications
officer, (416) 930-9055; Dave Walsh, Greenpeace International communications
officer on board the Esperanza, +47 514 079 86, +873 324 469 014; Sara Holden,
Greenpeace International Whales Project leader, on board the Esperanza, +47
514 079 86, +873 324 469 014; Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales Project
leader, Tokyo, +81-80-5088-2990 (GMT + 9); Photos are available from Michelle
Thomas, + 81 903 593 6979 and video from Michael Nagasaka, +81 806 558 4447,
both in Tokyo (GMT +9)

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