Greenpeace pursues whaler

Issue 

Greenpeace pursues whaler

The Greenpeace vessel Greenpeace is pursuing the mother ship of the four-vessel Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic Ocean. Greenpeace activists intend to disrupt the fleet's whaling activities, supposedly carried out for scientific research purposes, but actually a commercial operation.

"This is nothing but commercial whaling under a different name", says crew member Kieran Mulvaney. "From what we've seen, if they spot a whale they chase it. If it doesn't escape, they kill it."

The Greenpeace activists have been placing themselves between whales and the fleet's harpoons. On January 7, they used inflatables to shield a group of minke whales until they escaped.

For the past six years, most countries have observed an international whaling ban, but Japan continues under the pretext of scientific research. The International Whaling Commission has passed five resolutions asking Japan to discontinue its Antarctic whaling activities.

The Greenpeace has offered to leave the area if the Japanese factory ship, Nisshin Maru, also departs, leaving three smaller chaser ships to carry out non-lethal research. Greenpeace has offered to assist with any genuine Japanese research providing no whales are killed.

Meanwhile, the Greenpeace vessel, Gondwana, also monitoring activities in the Antarctic, has protested against a recent United States detonation of toxic waste from the McMurdo base.

The explosion, apparently involving about 180 kg of explosive, left 12-metre crater and was felt up to 10 km away. US authorities have so far not provided any information as to the content of the wastes. The crater in the ice is about three metres deep, with a cone of ash and contaminated snow at its centre. Contamination spread for about 500 metres around the site.

Greenpeace has a five-member team in the McMurdo area to monitor clean-up operations at the base.

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