Greenpeace Abandons Whaler Chase This Year

A Greenpeace boat tries to prevent the refuelling of a Japanese whaling ship earlier this year. Photo: Reuters

As reported by Andrew Darby for TheAge.com.au

Greenpeace has decided against tackling the Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic this summer.

The environmental organization has repeatedly disrupted whaling in the far south, but with the fleet’s departure close, has announced plans to campaign in Japan instead.

“Greenpeace believes the decisive battle to end whaling in the Southern Ocean is in Japan itself, and that’s where we want to focus our efforts,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s chief executive Steve Shallhorn said yesterday.

Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson, who is going south this summer, said the decision was a rejection of Greenpeace supporters who had given millions of dollars to protect whales.

“As a co-founder of Greenpeace I can only say I am deeply offended,” he said.

Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research said Greenpeace’s eco-terrorist actions were never legitimate, and the decision was an admission that research whaling posed no risk to whale stocks.

“Greenpeace will now peddle their manipulations and lies more towards Japanese consumers merely because it just doesn’t like people eating Antarctic whale meat, which is a healthy alternative to beef and lamb,” said ICR spokesman Glenn Inwood.

The decision follows three eventful summers in which Greenpeace disrupted whaling for weeks at a time, and claimed to have saved hundreds of whales. Each year, however, the actions of Sea Shepherd’s hardliners overshadowed Greenpeace’s work.

Mr Shallhorn said the decision was not influenced by Sea Shepherd’s presence in the Antarctic. “We do our own thing,” he said.

Nor was it influenced by the costs of the expedition.

However, two Greenpeace anti-whaling activists are expected to face court in Japan early in 2009 on charges of stealing a box of whale meat.

The activists, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, spent 26 days in custody before being charged over their investigation into the handing out of free whale meat to the crew of the factory ship, Nisshin Maru.

Mr Shallhorn said it was possible that an Antarctic trip might have harmed the case, though that would have been difficult to determine.

He said the decision should not be seen as holding out an olive branch to the Japanese Government. “There has been no significant movement by Japan so far that’s encouraged us to do this,” he said.

For the full story head to TheAge.com.au.