Greenpeace Protesters with Water Cannons
SOUTHERN OCEAN, December 17, 2001 (ENS)
released photos of Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean
attempting to drive their whale hunt protesters away with high
powered water cannons.
Today, as the activists drove their inflatable boats between a
Japanese whaling boat and its factory ship Nisshin Maru to slow
the transfer of a harpooned minke whale, the whalers shot them
with powerful water cannons, targeting the boat drivers. The
activists from the Greenpeace ship, MV Arctic Sunrise were in
danger of being knocked out of the inflatables and into the icy
Antarctic waters, but no one was badly hurt.
One Greenpeace crewmember, a Canadian called Mississippi Jesse,
was hit in the face with spray from the water cannon as he piloted
an inflatable near the Nisshin Maru.
He described the incident, "The pressure against the side of
my face was intense, as a fire hose was positioned half a meter
away. I tried to steer the boat with only the corner of one eye,
and managed to get us next to the whale that was now about to be
freed from the catcher and brought aboard the Nisshin Maru."
"They let go the line fastening the whale," he said,
"and this graceful leviathan was hauled in seconds through
the sea, and up the ramp to a miserable fate. It may be
frustrating, but for every whale caught, it only instills more
resolve in our crew to do whatever we can to stop the illegal hunt
of whales in the Southern Ocean."
The Japanese hunt minke whales in the Southern Ocean each year
under a self-imposed annual quota of 440 whales. While Greenpeace
and other whale conservation organizations call the hunt illegal,
the Japanese government maintains the minke whale hunt is done
legally for research purposes under a regulation of the
Shortly after the water cannon was used against the activists
piloting inflatables, the Greenpeace helicopter located another
catcher boat in the act of chasing a whale and took unique footage
of a whale being hit with the harpoon, "the first time such a
hit has been witnessed in more than a decade," the
“We watched the whalers chase the whale for more than 40 minutes,
repeatedly firing its harpoon and missing up to five times.
Finally they hit it with the sixth harpoon,” said Phil
Robinson, New Zealand helicopter pilot.
The Arctic Sunrise intercepted the whalers at 63°S, 52°E after
tracking them through 11 miles of pack ice. The inflatables were
recalled when the weather began to close in.
Crew members on board the inflatables were from Argentina, Japan,
the Netherlands, Tunisia, Canada, Turkey, France, the UK,
Australia and Greece.
Speaking from the Arctic Sunrise, after returning from the
inflatable, Japanese campaigner Yuko Hirono said, “There is
nothing scientific about this whaling. Once the whalers found open
water they set to with a determination to catch every whale in the
area. This is commercial whaling, purely for profit.”
She called on Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to stop
allowing the Fisheries Agency to misrepresent commercial whaling
as legitimate research.