Greenpeace announced that one of its ships had managed to locate the Japanese whaling fleet and will pursue the ships in an attempt to prevent them from whaling.
The Greenpeace ship Ezperanza
The Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza, had been searching for around 10 days in the Southern Ocean before tracking down the fleet early Saturday by following krill, one of whales’ main food sources. The group said it would try to stop the crews from killing whales using peaceful methods.
Greenpeace Australia head Steve Shalhorn said: “If they stop to whale, then we will intervene. As long as we are in pursuit, they won’t be able to whale. It’s a bit of a marathon out there.”
The Greenpeace website said that they will stop the whaling by putting themselves in inflatable boats between the whalers and the whales. Sara Holden, one of the crew members on the Esperanza, said: “If they try to start whaling, then we will do everything that we can to take peaceful direct action to stop that.”
Australia’s assistant treasurer Chris Bowen urged caution from the protesters, saying: “Their own personal safety is at risk and the personal safety of others is at risk.”
The Australian government has sent its own ship to pursue the Japanese whaling fleet. The Ocean Viking will track the fleet and gather evidence for a possible international court challenge against Japan’s whaling. Australia has been an extremely vocal opponent of Japan’s whaling activity, in part due to the fact the fleet planned to whale in an area Australia considers its whale sanctuary.
The public outcry, particularly in Australia, is thought to have helped convince the Japanese government to decide against hunting humpback whales. The whaling fleet had originally planned to hunt up to 50 of the giant mammals, but dropped the plans late last year. The fleet is still planning on hunting nearly 1000 minke and fin whales.