IFAW implores Japan to recall fire-damaged whaling fleet

Friday, 23 February, 2007
Yarmouth Port, MA
Experts with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) today called on the government of Japan to recall its whaling fleet after a fire damaged the fleet’s whale meat processing factory ship, the Nisshin Maru – causing the death of one crew member.
Japan’s government-sponsored whaling fleet is currently in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, where it is hunting a self allocated quota of more than 900 whales. The Southern Ocean Sanctuary is a marine preserve established in 1994 to protect whales from commercial whaling in the waters surrounding Antarctica. While commercial whaling has been banned since 1986 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), Japan continues to hunt whales for what it terms as “science” through an IWC loophole that allows for lethal whale research – earning the government harsh criticism from the global community.
Last week, fire broke out aboard the Nisshin Maru, leaving the vessel inoperable, and resulting in the death of one crewmember -- a young father of two.
“It is a tragedy that one life has already been lost in this disaster,” said IFAW’s Japan Country Director Naoko Funahashi. “Is the practice of hunting of whales worth the price of human lives in addition to the hundreds of whales that will be killed? We don’t think so. IFAW implores the government of Japan to recall its whaling fleet. To not do so would be disrespectful to the lost crewman and his family.”
The 8,000 ton Nisshin Maru is carrying hundreds of tons of fuel oil, and is 137 miles from the world's largest Adelie penguin breeding rookery, raising the fears of environmentalists that an oil spill from the ship could have disastrous effects.
“This is the second time a Japanese whaling vessel has caught fire within the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, risking considerable environmental damage to this protected area, in addition to the risk to human life,” said IFAW Director for Wildlife and Habitat Protection Dr. Joth Singh. “Japan must be held accountable to the same standards of others operating within this sensitive region, and should be required to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment for its whaling activities – as required by the Antarctic Treaty System.”
To learn more about Japan’s whaling program and IFAW’s campaign to protect whales worldwide, visit www.stopwhalingnow.org today.

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