|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MAY 26, 2005
Jim Wickens: Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner +82 102 233 0760
Mhairi Dunlop: Greenpeace International Media Officer +31 646 162 026
Yeyong, Choi: KFEM Director +82 164 587 488
Violence Threatens Peaceful Protest at Whale Embassy in South Korea
ULSAN, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA — Greenpeace and the Korean Federation of Environment Movement (KFEM) have received threats of violence against the peaceful occupation of a whale meat factory site in Ulsan, South Korea, which they have occupied for over one month. In a letter and at a press conference held by several local organisations it was announced that at 18.00hrs today, people will arrive at the ‘whale embassy’ to destroy it (1). The embassy was built by the activists on the site to highlight the perils faced by the world’s whales (2).
“The ‘Whale Embassy’ and our personal safety have been threatened by violence all so that they can prepare for an oceans’ day ceremony on this very site, but how can the Government seriously consider celebrating the oceans on the site of a proposed whale meat factory? It would be funny, if the consequences for the whales were not so serious,” said Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner, Jim Wickens.
Greenpeace and KFEM say that building a whale meat factory will hasten the decline of Korea’s few remaining whales, by industrialising the trade in whale meat, a trade which scientists predict will push Korea’s whales to extinction. In Korea, whales can be brought ashore and sold for meat only if they are accidentally caught. However Korea has accidental bycatch rates up to a hundred times higher than nations that do not have a whale meat trade (3).
“It does not take a genius to see that in a country where dead whales are worth up to $100000, that this industry will encourage the deliberate targeting and illegal hunting of Korea’s disappearing whales”, said Wickens. "It is a bit like building an ivory factory in Kenya for elephants that have accidentally died."
This threat comes as the whaling debate within Korea reaches new heights, only weeks before Ulsan plays host to the 57th IWC meeting in June. Greenpeace state that the Government is sending out clear signals that they intend to follow the Japanese Government’s tactics of resuming scientific whaling under the excuse of fatal scientific research. This claim is backed up by the Korean Government’s agreed plans for a dolphin cull of several hundred dolphins over the next few years.
Contrary to the claims of environmentalists, the government defines the factory as a ‘check point for dealing with accidentally caught whale carcasses in an environmentally-friendly and sanitary manner’.
“It is quite clear that the only thing being sanitized here is the truth; these whales are destined to become part of a lucrative whale meat industry, an industry that will lead to the extinction of Korea’s minke whales within our lifetime,” said Yeyong, Choi, from KFEM.