Collision on the High Seas

Although the International Whaling Commission has authorized a global moratorium on the sale of whale products since 1982, this has not stopped Japanese fleets from continuing to kill whales (under the banner of “science”) and sell the meat and byproducts on the market (see “The Whale Killers,” Currents, January/February 2003). In late December, two Greenpeace ships came upon a Japanese “research” convoy in the Southern Ocean that was hunting for whales. The Southern Ocean is an Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, which is supposed to be protected from commercial whaling.

Japanese whaling
Harpoon guns fire away as whales are killed for “science.”

Greenpeace activists in inflatable rafts painted the side of one of the Japanese ships with the words “whale meat from sanctuary.” A collision between a Japanese and Greenpeace ship ensued. According to Greenpeace Oceans Specialist John Hocevar, “The whalers were frustrated with the effectiveness we had in stopping them. The captain [of the Japanese ship] turned around and headed one kilometer out of his way to collide with the Arctic Sunrise.”

A media release from the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research disputes the report, claiming “the Greenpeace vessel deliberately rammed the Japanese research vessel
in a deliberate action to get media coverage.” No injuries were reported and neither boat was seriously damaged.