FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, 22 December 1999

Greenpeace "Santa" Stops Illegal Whaler from Hunting

Southern Ocean:

"Santa" paid an early visit in the Antarctic today, stopping an illegal whale catcher from whaling. "Santa" is driving a Greenpeace inflatable boat which is positioned directly in front of an illegal Japanese whaling catcher Toshi- maru No.25. The catcher has just covered its harpoon.

This is the third day of protest against Japanese whaling in the internationally-agreed Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Yesterday, the whaling fleet's "mother" ship, the Nisshin-Maru, rammed the Greenpeace vessel MV Arctic Sunrise in the remote and icy waters around Antarctica. The damage to the Greenpeace ship has been contained.

"By putting our inflatable in front of the catcher's harpoon, we are putting it out of action for as long as we possibly can," said Greenpeace campaigner onboard the Arctic Sunrise, John Bowler. The Greenpeace activist dressed as Santa attempted to deliver the MV Arctic Sunrise Christmas message to the illegal whaling fleet.

The message details how the whaling fleet is in violation of articles 65 and 120 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. UNCLOS requires that all states cooperate with the International Whaling Commission which has consistently requested that Japan stops whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. The message has also reminded the whaling fleet that Greenpeace is a non-violent organisation.

Greenpeace continues to call on governments to demand that the Japanese Government cancel its illegal Antarctic whaling program. To date only Australian, New Zealand, British and US governments have made soft diplomatic moves to pressure Japan to abandon the whaling program.

This year Japan intends to hunt 440 Minke whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary as part of its so-called "scientific research" program. However the whale meat produced by the 'research' is sold on the open market in Japan. By continuing to whale in defiance of continued International Whaling Commission (IWC) requests to stop hunting, Japan is in breach of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 144 nations of the world (including Japan) agreed in 1982 to respect UNCLOS.