Greenpeace activists speak in Sydney
Friday February 10th 2006, 10:37 am

Greenpeace activists are still warming their frozen toes after 73 days of chasing the Institute for Cetacean Research whale hunters around the Southern Ocean. Greenpeace anti-whaling Expedition Leader Shane Rattenbury spoke on 8 February 2006 along with activists Mikey and Lally at Sydney’s National Maritime Museum, about the recent Greenpeace efforts to interfere with killing of more than a thousand whales in the course of supposed research.

Steve Shallhorn of Greenpeace Australia Pacific (click for larger size)
Steve Shallhorn, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific
introduces Antarctic Expedition Team leader
Shane Rattenbury and Campaigner Mikey (far right)

Despite his jumping on to a dead whale and displaying a protest banner, Greenpeace campaigner Mikey turns out to be a rather mild mannered and soft-spoken fellow. image: Greenpeace (click for larger size)He seemed to be surprised at the broad publication of the images of him ‘riding’ the freshly killed whale while displaying his ‘STOP WHALING’ banner. Mikey & Lally with explosive whale harpoon

Mikey and Lally are partners in life as well as in environmental activism. Whilst Mikey was out on the inflatables blocking the aim of the hunters, Lally did websmithing duties from aboard the Greenpeace vessel MV Arctic Sunrise. Even while far out to sea, Greenpeace activists can get on the Net. The MV Esperanza has satellite dishes which give 24/7 Internet access to the crew. Esperanza also has WiFi equipment which gives internet access to icebreaker MV Arctic Sunrise if it is within range.

Lally and many other crew blogged their experiences chasing the whalers, despite heavy seas with waves up to 15 metres high. Lally remarked that one bounce dashed her alarm clock against her bunk room wall, knocking the batteries out. Can’t imagine how her laptop fared!

whale harpoon with explosive grenade tip (click for larger size) The weapons of whaling are fearsome. The pictured whale harpoon, belonging to the National Maritime Museum’s collection, is about 1.5 metres long and weighs about 80kg. The tip contains an explosive grenade which is supposed to kill the whale and set the hooks into the whale’s flesh, but they don’t always kill on the first strike. In the recent hunt in the whale sanctuary, one whale suffered through being hit with six of these explosive harpoons, yet the wounded whale escaped the hunters. Greenpeace activists found themselves in the rather uncomfortable position of having to direct the whalers to the mortally wounded whale to finish it off.

Expedition Leader Shane Rattenbury talked about the futility of whale hunting. Whale is not a staple food in Japan. It is found in a few small restaurants, some which serve burgers made from various game meats, whale among them. Whale is priced as a luxury item in some shops but more commonly is sold as frozen sashimi. Rattenbury described the conflicts of interest between the International Whaling Commission and the Japanese Nissui company as well as the corporate connection between whaling companies and producers of seafoods for retail sale. The president of Nissui is also a Vice President of the Japan Fisheries Association, a non-government organization which lobbies the International Whaling Commission every year to lift the ban on commercial whaling. New Zealand based Sealord as well as Gorton’s of Gloucester are familiar to shoppers of frozen food sections in Australian and American groceries. Sealord and Gorton’s are subsidiaries* of Nissui, which owns 31% of the whaling fleet.

The addition of the massive and speedy Esperanza to the Greenpeace fleet allowed activists to keep up with and seriously interfere with the whale hunt, conducted under the guise of scientific research. In previous years, the Japanese whale hunter ships were able to outrun the Greenpeace vessels. This year, the whale hunters were so stymied by the speed of the activists that they twice rammed large Greenpeace vessels and tried several times to sink several of the smaller inflatable craft with firehoses. MV Esperanza got a scratched paint job when sideswiped by the hunter/killer ship Kyo Maru and Arctic Sunrise was famously set up for a collision by the processor/freezer vessel Nisshin Maru.

Don’t miss the Greenpeace Ocean Defenders blog which describes this year’s protest action, day by day. You can also send a message to your government and to companies involved in pseudo-science asking them to stop the needless killing of whales.


3 Comments so far
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Hi Weez,
Great article and nice to meet you the other night! Just a small correction – Sealord is actually only 50% owned by Nissui. The rest of it is owned by Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd. (AFL). AFL was established in 2004 to manage the assets as part of the settlement to Maori of commercial fishing claims under the Treaty of Waitangi. So as you can imagine, there has been some tension in NZ about Greenpeace targeting Sealord. The general response from Sealord seems to be that it’s not their problem and we should all go and talk to Nissui. So much for their corporate environmental responsibility policy!

Comment by Adele (Greenpeace Webbie) 02.10.06 @ 11:23 am

Hi Adele, thanks for dropping in!

I’ve removed the ‘wholly owned’ notation and added a link to your comment.

Passing the corporate buck upstream to an overseas parent makes a convenient situation where companies are in effect subject to no laws at all limiting the environmental damage they can cause.

If Sealord are essentially partly owned by the Maori people, who are well reknowned for their love of the land and sea, one would think they’d be pressuring Sealord and Nissui to stop whaling. You’re right- it’s a curious situation. I’ll be researching this one a bit to find out where it goes.

Comment by weezil 02.10.06 @ 11:39 am

heyy just letting you’s know that i think ts AMAZING what you’s are doing to try and save these whales.
i personallt cant believe the diplorable manner in which these beatiful harmlwss creatures are killed.
it makes me SICK 2 my stomache n i wish i could do more and get involved 2 help.
I have watched youtube videos aswell as videos of other sites such as .
I really want to get involved and help as watching these really affect me as well as infuriate me. !
keep up the good work guys!!

Comment by JESS.ica 03.28.08 @ 7:14 pm

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