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Whalers ram Greenpeace ship
08 January 2006
Southern Ocean, International - This morning our ship the Arctic Sunrise was deliberately rammed and damaged by the Nisshin Maru, the factory ship of the Japanese whaling fleet. Straight after the ramming, the Nisshin Maru began to steam away from the "scene of the crime". However both the Arctic Sunrise and the Esperanza are in pursuit with every intention of continuing to peacefully protest the hunt.
Speaking from onboard the Arctic Sunrise, expedition leader Shane Rattenbury said, "There is no way to describe this as anything but a deliberate ramming which placed the safety of our ship and the lives of our crew in severe danger." The Nisshin Maru is more than twice as long and six times heavier than the Arctic Sunrise. The impact has left the Sunrise "battered and bruised" but luckily no crew members were injured.
Overnight the Nisshin Maru had been offloading accumulated whale meat onto a supply vessel and early this morning our activists, in inflatables, began to paint the words "whale meat from sanctuary" on the side of the supply ship. This action in no way impeded the transfer of the meat and the tiny inflatables did not represent a threat to either vessel.
As the activists completed painting the slogan, the Nisshin Maru suddenly disengaged from the supply vessel coming around a full 360 degrees before making for the Arctic Sunrise, which was about a kilometre away, and striking it on the port side. The captain of the Sunrise tried to pull out of the way of the oncoming whaler.
Back on December 21, when the catcher ship the Kyo Maru bumped the Esperanza, the Japanese Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) said "the same thing occurred five years ago when in 1999 another collision occurred between Japan's research vessels and a Greenpeace vessel".
However, it was the Nisshin Maru, not the Arctic Sunrise, which was at fault for the collision in December 1999 also, as officially recorded in the Lloyd's database (the international record of maritime movements and casualties). International maritime law states that "any vessel overtaking any other shall keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken."
Japanese Whaling Fleet on the Run Again - 48 Hours Without Whaling
As soon as the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat arrived on the scene on the morning of the 8th of January, the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru began to run. She is still running and is now 300 miles to the west of the position the Sea Shepherd crew found her. She has also not processed any whales for over 48 hours.
Captain Paul Watson believes that the Nisshin Maru and the Oriental Bluebird are attempting to rendezvous to continue off-loading whale meat from the factory ship to the supply ship for transport back to Japan. The ships were in the process of transferring cargo when the Farley Mowat arrived. The Nisshin Maru slipped the mooring lines attached to the Oriental Bluebird and began to flee when the Farley Mowat was spotted. The Captain of the Nisshin Maru then collided with the nearby Arctic Sunrise causing damage to the Greenpeace ship. The Nisshin Maru fled north and the Oriental Bluebird fled northeast.
The Farley Mowat found the Oriental Bluebird on the morning of the 9th of January. The supply boat had her fenders out and appeared to be waiting to meet up with the Nisshin Maru to continue to transfer whale meat.
Captain Paul Watson ordered the Oriental Bluebird out of the Whale Sanctuary and sideswiped the vessel with the Farley Mowat.
"We hit her," said Captain Watson. "We hit her because she is a whale meat smuggler illegally loading contraband whale meat in the Whale Sanctuary. We acted in accordance with the World Charter for Nature to uphold international conservation laws protecting the whales. This ship has no business down here. We believe our actions this morning disrupted the plans by the Nisshin Maru to transfer their cargo. We have no apologies."
The Japanese whaling fleet has lost almost two weeks of whaling time so far this season.
There is no doubt that the Japanese fleet is running from the Sea Shepherd crew. The fleet left Commonwealth Bay and ran north for 3 days as the Farley Mowat first approached their position. When the Farley Mowat caught up and intercepted the fleet on December 25, the whalers ran over 3,000 miles to the west.
When the Farley Mowat caught up again on January 8, the whalers began to run again another 300 miles west and they are still running at 14 knots.
The Sea Shepherd crew have disrupted operations three times and forced the ship to run each time.
Captain Watson is confident that if he can secure a faster ship that he will be able to return next year to prevent the Japanese fleet from killing 50 humpbacks and 50 fins and another 1,000 piked whales.
"We have not seen one whale killed down here nor do we intend to. I can promise that no Sea Shepherd ship will stand by and watch the murder of a whale. This has never happened and it will never happen. We are down here to stop whaling not to watch it." said Captain Watson.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been stopping outlaw whalers since 1979 and in that time has sunk nine illegal whaling ships without ever causing a single injury to any whaler.
In response to criticisms that he is violating the rules of the road, Captain Watson noted, "That Japanese have been in clear violation of these rules of the road (in addition to violating many international laws) and no one seems to be overly concerned with their behaviour. These ruthless, murdering cowards must be stopped and it is a disgrace that non-governmental organizations have to come down to these waters to do the work of governments."
The Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat continues to pursue the Japanese fleet westward across the bottom of the Indian Ocean. It is a bizarre race: One whaling factory ship, four harpoon vessels, one spotting vessel, one supply vessel, two Greenpeace ships, and a Sea Shepherd ship. Ten ships in total in a struggle over the lives of the great whales.
"This is the greatest whale story since Moby Dick," said Captain Watson. "Killers and defenders - a classic struggle between life and death, good and evil. This has the making of a great epic. The question is who will win? Life or death? Good or evil? Whale defenders or whale killers? I am thrilled to be on the side of the angels and of the leviathans."
Sea Shepherd Continues to Pursue Pirate Whalers - No Whales killed for the Last Three Days
Report from Captain Paul Watson
Things are heating up in the cold war to save the whales. New Zealand is sending Air Force Orion aircraft to monitor the situation. Japan is threatening to send something called the "Airborne Police" to protect their outlaw whalers. Politicians are fuming and so-called experts are pontificating. Australian politicians are sitting on the fence conflicted between representing the will of their anti-whaling citizens and their allegiance to their corporate buddies in Tokyo.
Lots of talk, lots of posturing, and lots of opinions.
The bottom line - whales are dying! They are being systematically slaughtered by a highly illegal operation.
The regulations and the moratorium of the International Whaling Commission are being violated. The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is being violated. The Antarctic Treaty territory is being violated. The Australian Antarctic Territory is being violated. The rules of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) are being violated.
This Japanese whaling fleet is a criminal operation, no different than drug traffickers or ivory smugglers. They are despicable poachers.
We are down here because governments are not doing anything to uphold the law against Japanese violations.
When Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell states that, "Sea Shepherd is setting back the cause of whale conservation ten years," my response to him was, "Good, ten years ago far fewer whales were killed each year than today. Going back ten years is a positive move."
When New Zealand Environmental Minister Chris Carter says that Sea Shepherd is acting irresponsibly, my answer to him is we are down here because you have acted irresponsibly in not upholding the laws against Japan.
When Greenpeace criticize us for our tactics our response to them is, "We're glad you're down here. We appreciate everything you are doing to expose Japan's illegal activities. You have our full support. If you disagree with us, we have no problem with that. You are entitled to your opinion. But we are not down here for Greenpeace nor are we down here for people. Our clients are the whales."
When critics say we are going to far our answer is that for the whales, things have already gone way too far. These whales are being killed, their living flesh torn from their bodies. They are being electrocuted for up to twenty minutes to kill them as their heads are submerged beneath the sea. Imagine the agony of being drowned and electrocuted at the same time as your body pours hot pulsing blood into a cold sea from a gaping wound, and your body is riddled with burning shrapnel from the grenade tipped projectile that exploded with unimaginable pain, shredding your organs yet not killing you.
We have not injured anyone and we have no intention of injuring anyone. I have been disabling whaling ships for decades without causing a single injury so all this holier than thou speculation is boringly distracting.
What part of the word "illegal" do people not understand?
Yes, we risk our lives because whales are worth risking our lives for. Politicians express horror that lives are risked to protect whales as they send young people off to lose their life and get maimed to defend oil wells.
Critics then say we have no right to put Japanese lives at risk. Why not? They are criminals. If they were running drugs or robbing banks, there would be little sympathy for them, yet their crime is even more serious. The killing of an endangered species is a crime against nature and it is a crime against humanity.
Critics are saying that we have violated the so-called "rules of the road." The Japanese are doing that out here all the time without much comment from the same critics.
If we are committing a crime we should be arrested but no one has accused us of committing a specific crime. We sideswiped a whaling fleet support vessel yet the whalers have rammed two Greenpeace ships and attempted to ram the Farley Mowat. No one is talking about arresting the Japanese whalers for their attacks. Is the law there for only one side?
There is chaos down here, and this chaos is a result of the neglect by governments to uphold the international rule of conservation law.
If these were Indonesian poachers down in these waters, the government of Australia would be all over them. The message they are sending is that wealthy poachers are to be tolerated and poor poachers are to be persecuted.
The stench of hypocrisy is reeking.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a voice of honesty in this debate. We are not denying hitting the whalers. That is why we are here. We did not come down to these remote waters to take photographs or to say, "Pretty please, Mr. Whaler, sir, do not kill the whales."
We came here to demand an end to the killing and to demand that Japanese whalers comply with conservation law. We have no apologies for this position.
There is real violence down here in these waters. Forget about the clang-clang of ship's hulls against each other. Forget about the minor bruises and soakings from water hoses. Forget about the war of banners and name calling between the Japanese whalers and Greenpeace. This is all trivial stuff.
The violence is the horrific death of sensitive, intelligent, socially complex beings that we human beings have absolutely no right to be killing.
We are down here because of the screams of the whales and believe me they scream. I have heard them - shrill agonizing human-like screams of incredible pain. We are down here because of the blood that is staining the cold seas and is flowing from the drainage pipes of this floating obscenity of an abattoir called the Nisshin Maru. We are down here because we want to stop the flow of blood and the senseless slaughter. We are down here because the Japanese whalers are vicious criminal killers and we must defend their defenseless victims from their cruel harpoons.
If there is a human critic who disagrees with what we are doing our answer to them is we don't care. We represent the whales not them. Find us one whale that disagrees with our efforts, our tactics or our activism and I promise you I will retire.
For most people, the oceans and the whales are out of sight and out of mind. But not for us. We are here because we deeply care about the lives of these incredible sentient and intelligent beings. We are here because they are being murdered by criminals.
What person among you could stand by and watch a dog being kicked to death and would do nothing? What person among you could stand by and watch a horse whipped to death and would just take pictures. What person among you could witness a kitten tortured and could turn away?
If you are such a person then you are a person of no integrity, no courage, no heart, and no soul - the kind of monster that could pull the trigger and send a deadly harpoon into the back of a fleeing whale.
If you are such a person we could care less what you think for you would be beneath contempt and your opinions undeserving of respect.
So we are either serious about defending whales or we are not.
The barbaric and bloody trade in whale flesh must be abolished and the very idea of killing a whale must be eradicated from the behaviour of humankind.
Human salvation will only be found through compassion and through the courage to act passionately in defense of compassion.
The Japanese whalers must be forced out of the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary and if governments refuse to do so then we as non-governmental organizations and as individuals must do so.
To that end, our Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat is moving in on the Japanese fleet.
The Nisshin Maru and two harpoon vessels are near Cape Boothby off Kemp land - a day and a half from the Sea Shepherd position. They have resumed whaling activities. The Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat is heading towards that position with the objective of "persuading" the Japanese fleet to once again cease and desist from their illegal whaling activities.
Greenpeace finds and engages the whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean
International - Southern Ocean, 21 December 2005 -- Two Greenpeace ships, the MY Esperanza and the MY Arctic Sunrise, today confronted the Fisheries Agency of Japan whaling fleet and called on it to "Leave the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary immediately." In eight inflatable's carrying banners which read "defending the whales" and "stop whaling" crew from the two ships declared their intention to block the hunt.
While the Greenpeace ships were relaying their message, two 'catcher ships' arrived on the scene with dead minke whales hung from their hulls, ready to be transferred to the fleet's factory ship, the Nisshin Maru. However, the Esperanza was blocking access to the Nisshim Maru's stern ramp and one 'catcher', the Kyo Maru Number One, twice tried to push the Esperanza out of the way, in the interest of safety the Esperanza pulled back.
"This whale hunt is unnecessary, unjustified, and unwanted," said Greenpeace Expedition leader Shane Rattenbury. In a radio call to the whaling vessels, from the bridge of the Arctic Sunrise, Yuko Hirono, of Greenpeace Japan called upon the whalers to stop killing whales "and leave the internationally recognised Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."
Flying in the face of international protest and repeated calls from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to stop its annual 'scientific' whale hunt, this year the Fisheries Agency of Japan has more than double its planned catch of minke whales to 935 and added 10 endangered fin whales. Over the next 2 years 40 more fin whales will be added to the annual kill along with 50 humpback whales. Fin whales are the second largest creatures on earth, after blue whales.
"No one is fooled by the giant new "RESEARCH" sign which has been painted on the side of the fleet's factory ship, the Nisshin Maru. Once the whales are have been measured and weighed by the 'scientists' the onboard butchers get to work and the whales are cut up and boxed for market," said Rattenbury. "This is all about money and not science!"
Greenpeace is using every available means to bring the hunt to an early end and make it the last time the Sanctuary is breached by the whalers. This includes tracking the money behind the fleet.
Greenpeace, the Environmental Investigations Agency and the Humane Society of the US, have been tracking the money behind the whaling fleets. Greenpeace is currently focussing its attention on the US sea food giant Gorton's, the US frozen seafood market leader. US consumers are familiar with its 'friendly family business' image, but they are not so whale friendly. Gorton's is owned by Nissui USA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nissui, Japan's second-largest marine products company, and one third of owner of Kyodo Senpaku, the company that operates the whaling fleet. Greenpeace is calling on Gorton's to use its influence to convince Nissui to bring an end to whaling.
"In a world were international public opinion is ignored and where high level diplomatic pressure has failed, Greenpeace hopes that consumers can once and for all demonstrate that there is no profit in whaling," said Rattenbury.
For more information on the campaign to defend the whales go to: http://oceans.greenpeace.org
Video and stills of whales being harpooned today and being transferred from the catcher ships to the factory ship and being cut open on board the factory ship are being transmitted from the Greenpeace ships and will be available within the next few hours.
Notes to Editor
The campaign to defend the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is the first stage in an ambitious new Greenpeace campaign 'Defending our Oceans'. Over the next year the Esperanza will be Greenpeace's main platform in arguing for a network of marine reserves or parks covering 40% of the world's oceans: places to be protected from industrial exploitation and destruction, from industrial fishing and hunting, and places from which our oceans can begin the process of repair and recovery. Seventy crew and campaigners from 19 countries are on board the two Greenpeace vessels: UK, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Ghana, Russia, Norway, Denmark, USA, France, Italy, Japan, Ireland, India, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Austria and Argentina.