Skip to comments.Govt won't stop Japanese whaling ships
Posted on 05/16/2005 2:36:16 AM PDT by snowsislander
Prime Minister John Howard has ruled out forcibly preventing Japanese whaling ships from entering Antarctic waters.
Pressure is mounting on the government to do more to halt the hunting of whales, including the famed humpbacks, in Antarctic waters.
Japan is believed to have killed more than 400 whales, ostensibly for scientific research, in the Antarctic since a sanctuary was declared to protect the mammals.
Documents submitted to the Federal Court by the government showed it had deliberately refrained from trying to stop Japanese whalers in its exclusive economic zone, newspaper reports said.
Among the reasons given were that the whalers were too fast.
Instead, the government has set out a list of instructions to Australian Antarctic Division leaders on what to do when they meet a Japanese vessel.
Mr Howard said Australia was pushing hard for a change by Japan in its plans to resume hunting humpback whales.
But he ruled out forcibly preventing Japanese whaling ships from entering Antarctic waters.
"There are some limits as to what we can do, some people have said that we should take action by force if necessary to keep them out of the Antarctic," Mr Howard said.
Japan and many other countries did not recognise Australia's authority in the Antarctic, he said.
"There has always been a degree of ambiguity about the attitude of other countries including the Americans, to our claims in the Antarctic, so it's certainly not clear under international law that such behaviour by Australia would be correct," he said.
Japan will go to a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in June seeking to extend its whale hunting to humpbacks.
Australia has joined with Britain, America and New Zealand in lodging a representation to oppose the plan.
"I think everybody would agree that the first thing we should try and do is to bring about a change of attitude by Japan through diplomatic means," Mr Howard said.
"Getting a joint representation from Australia, Britain, America and New Zealand is not a bad start and we're working on that right at the moment.
"We are friendly with Japan, we have a good relationship with Japan, but this is an issue where we disagree with Japan and we disagree very strongly."
Federal Labor demanded the government reveal how much it knew about the slaughter in Australian territorial waters.
Opposition environment spokesman Anthony Albanese said that, in 1999, parliament passed a law creating a whale sanctuary in Australia's territorial waters.
"Yet since 1999 Japanese fishermen have killed over 400 whales in Australian waters - while the Australian government has done nothing," he said.
"The Howard government has sat on its hands over the past three years while Japan has increased its influence over IWC members.
"The Howard government has been completely negligent in this matter."
The Humane Society International (HSI) urged Australia to bring Japan to account over its whale hunts through the International Court of Justice.
It should invite other strong anti-whaling countries such as New Zealand to join it, HSI Australian spokeswoman Nicole Beynon said.
She said HSI was confident it would not take much to convince an international court that Japan's motivation for killing whales had nothing to do with science.
The HSI is awaiting a judgment in a case it brought against Japanese whalers in Australia's Federal Court.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand government warned a Japanese recruitment drive for supporters at the IWC might enable it to shut down the body's conservation committee.
Whale activists threatened with eviction
Opponents of whale factory stand their ground
11 May 2005
The Greenpeace Whale Embassy, set up near the site of a planned whale meat factory in Ulsan, South Korea and scheduled for eviction by city officials.
The city of Ulsan, Korea has ordered us to vacate our "Whale Embassy" -- built near the site of a planned whale meat factory.
We've told them we'll be happy to leave, once they assure us they will not build the factory.
In early April, we uncovered plans by the Korean government to build a whale meat factory in Ulsan. The discovery added to growing evidence that Korea wants to reopen commercial whaling.
We established our Whale Embassy to open a dialogue with local people about the government's plans, to explain just how many people around the world oppose whaling, to call for a cancellation of plans to build the factory, along with assurances that Korea will not bow to pressure from Japan to resume commercial whaling.
We've had visitors and volunteers from the local community, the New Zealand Ambassador stopped by, and a great deal of local press attention.
City officials embarrassed
But City officials are not at all happy with us tarnishing their reputation as the "City of whales" with our suggestion that Ulsan is actually heading toward becoming the "City of whaling." Our eviction notice stated they want us to leave because they claim we are in the way of the proposed Oceans Day ceremony on May 31st.
They have given us until Monday, May 16th to get off the site.
Stifling criticism and hired thugs
Whale campaigner Jim Wickens says: "It is quite clear that they want to stifle any criticism of their plans to build the factory. Today they showed us plans of the Oceans Day ceremony being planned, and on the entire 15,000 square-metre site, they dont have any room for our little embassy. We have told them that any attempts to evict us forcibly will reflect very badly on their international image."
There have already been several attempts at intimidation, official and unofficial. According to Wickens: "Last night at four in the morning four local fishermen turned up looking for trouble, luckily there were others awake to come and help. We have been tipped off that in Korea in sensitive political protests, the authorities sometimes hire thugs to do the dirty work. There is a distinct possibility that they may do this in the form of fake fishermen coming to beat us up, or even inflaming local fishermen to actually do it for them."
The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries has sent a fax to our headquarters in Amsterdam claiming we are distorting the truth.
"Hygienic" butchering of "accidental" whale meat
They say that the whale meat factory will merely be a sanitary measure -- a way to hygienically butcher the whales which are "accidentally" killed by becoming entangled in nets, and those which might be killed in a possible programme of "scientific whaling."
Korea allows the commercial sale of whale meat from accidental kills. The Ministry didn't respond to our observation that Korea and Japan individually in 2003 caught more whales by accident than all the fishing fleets in the world combined reported.
Nor did they comment on the stories that local people have told us about some methods fisherman use to "accidentally" catch whales: ramming them with the ship to cause massive internal injuries.
A juvenile minke whale caught "accidentally" by a fishing vessel is butchered in Ulsan, Korea. The meat was then sold for US$30,000. Korea reports an unusually high number of "accidentally" killed whales each year which are legally sold for meat.
With our own eyes
We witnessed the butchering of a juvenile minke whale which was "accidentally" caught. The whale meat was packaged up for sale at a value of US$30,000.
At prices like that, you can well imagine why a city official might want to build a whale butchering factory.
The man who can stop the whale meat factory is Ulsan mayor, Mr. Park Maeng-woo.
Local businessmen, such as the deputy vice president of Hyundai, have been vocal supporters of the whale meat factory, apparently unaware of the brand damage which other multinational corporations have suffered when they've been exposed as having a close association to whaling.
Korea hosts the International Whaling Commission meeting this year in June. The meeting that could open the doors to a return to commercial whaling, which has been banned since 1985.
Tell the mayor to stop the whale factory
We're trying to warn Mr. Park Maeng-woo just how passionate people around the world are about saving whales -- how much his town's reputation, the reputation of Hyundai corporation, and the reputation of his country are at stake.
You can help us let the Ulsan mayor know just how important it is to Greenpeace supporters worldwide that he make the right decision and cancel the whale meat factory.