Greenpeace activists are saying that they have managed to chase the Japanese whaling fleet from its hunting grounds in the Southern Sea.
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza claims that the whalers fled the area after a chase worthy of an adventure novel. The Esperanza and the whaling ship had a dramatic chase through hundreds of miles worth of thick fog before forcing the catcher ships, which harpoon the whales, from the factory ship Nisshin Maru. The catcher ships will be unable to hunt so long as they are separated from the factory processing ship.
Greenpeace Japan campaigner Sakyo Noda said: “We came here to stop the fleet from whaling and we have done that. Now they are out of the hunting grounds they should stay out.”
The fleet will most likely refuel from a nearby tanker before returning to the hunting area. The Japanese government took a predictable view of the situation, warning the protesters against further interference with their Antarctic whale hunt.
Keiichi Nakajima, the president of the Japanese Whaling Association, said: “Past activities of Greenpeace have been responsible for vessel collisions that risk the lives and safety of our researchers and crew and are illegal under international maritime law. I urge Greenpeace … to keep a safe distance.”
But Greenpeace, who credited their actions so far with depriving the fleet of two days of whaling, showed no signs of backing down. Greenpeace spokesman and Esperanza resident Dave Walsh said: “If they start whaling again we will launch inflatables and put ourselves between the harpoons and the whales. We are not here to attack whalers; we are here to defend whales.”