A GREENPEACE protest ship is in pursuit Jan 12, 2008 12:11:21 GMT -5
Post by Flash on Jan 12, 2008 12:11:21 GMT -5
A GREENPEACE protest ship is in pursuit of a fleet of Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean after finding the vessels early this morning.
Expedition leader aboard the Greenpeace vessel Esperanza, Karli Thomas, said the six Japanese ships fled when Greenpeace located them shortly after midnight (AEDT).
"The first thing they did when we approached them was to scatter and run," Ms Thomas said.
"We stayed with the factory ship the Nisshin Maru, which is always the major target," she said.
She said Greenpeace was engaged in high-speed pursuit of the whaling ships and would take non-violent action to stop them hunting more of the marine mammals.
Greenpeace has vowed to stay in pursuit of the whaling fleet for as long as necessary to prevent the killing of whales.
"We will continue to do that - as long as we are in pursuit, the ship will not be capable of whaling,'' head of Greenpeace Australia and Pacific, Steve Shallhorn, said.
"If whaling does resume we will be there to prevent whales being killed."
Greenpeace broadcasted a message in Japanese and English to the whaling ships condemning the hunt and insisted they to return to port immediately.
"Your so-called scientific whaling is a hoax and has been dismissed as useless by the International Whaling Commission. Modern scientific research on whales does not require killing them," the message said.
Ms Thomas said the crew gave a collective sigh of relief after locating the Japanese ships so quickly.
The Esperanza left Auckland on December 22, but has only been in the Southern Ocean for 10 days.
International spokesman for Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, Glenn Inwood, said his organisation believed Greenpeace used whaling as a way of fundraising.
"We have made our views known on the whole Greenpeace thing. Japan's research is legal. What (protest groups) Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace do is illegal," he said.
Australian customs vessel the Oceanic Viking left Western Australia on Tuesday to monitor the Japanese fleet at work.
The Australian ship plans to spend 20 days gathering video and photographic evidence for a possible international court case against Japanese whaling.
Japan plans to kill 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales, which conservationists say are endangered, during this year's hunt as part of what it claims to be a research program.
Plans to hunt 50 humpback whales were dropped by Japan after heavy pressure from Australia and America.
The confrontation in the Southern Ocean is the first since last year, when the Japanese whale hunt ended early due to an accidental fire aboard the Nisshin Maru that killed one crew member.