Greenpeace blocks whalers from refueling in Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
Southern Ocean, 22 January 2008 – On the eleventh day of successfully preventing the Japanese whaling fleet from killing whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary , activists from the Greenpeace ship
Esperanza today blocked the fleet’s factory ship Nisshin Maru from being refueled in Antarctic waters by the Panamanian-registered vessel Oriental Bluebird.
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 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 Organisation 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
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 Panamian-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 IWC 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 Panamian 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."