CAPETOWN, South Africa - November 18 - We are facing a growing wave
of ocean extinction; our seas have reached a tipping point, with scores
of species, fish, birds and mammals edging toward extinction (1). In
response, Greenpeace is launching its most ambitious ship expedition
ever to defend our oceans and to call for a vast network of marine
reserves that are needed to protect and restore the health of the
planets oceans (2).
The expedition will begin this weekend when two Greenpeace ships, the MY
Esperanza and the MY Arctic Sunrise, leave Cape Town to oppose continued
whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Flying in the face of international protest and repeated calls from the
International Whaling Commission (IWC) to stop the annual hunt, this
year the Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) intends to more than double its
catch of minke whales to 935. Adding insult to injury this year 10 fin
whales will also be caught in the harpooner’s sights. Next year 40 more
fin whales will be added along with 50 humpback whales. Both are
recognised as endangered species.
“Even though the ban on commercial whaling has been agreed, the
international community has failed to stop the hunt. Starting with the
easiest whales to catch, vast whaling fleets have pushed one species
after another to the brink of extinction. Greenpeace is heading once
more to the Sanctuary to defend the whales and call for an immediate end
to the hunt” said Shane Rattenbury, head of Greenpeace’s Oceans
Campaign. “The persecution of the great whales is a tragic echo of what
is happening throughout our oceans,” Rattenbury added.
Every second breath we take comes from the oceans – they give the planet
half of its oxygen. In return we suffocate them with pollution, warm
them with climate change and empty them of fish. Countless factory ships
scour and devour all life in their path with destructive techniques like
bottom trawling. It is time to face facts, time to begin defending our
oceans. “Only through establishing and enforcing a vast network of
marine reserves can we reverse the decline and guarantee our children’s
right to inherit healthy seas,” added Rattenbury.
After returning from the Southern Ocean the Esperanza will continue on
its 14 month expedition across four of the five oceans, to highlight
their wonders and the threats they face, all the while mapping and
demonstrating the need for a global network of marine reserves (4).
To help in the campaign Greenpeace is planning to gather a million
“Ocean Defenders” through the course of the expedition – supporters who
will join the call for action.
The Esperanza, the newest of the Greenpeace ships, has been fitted with
new hi-tech equipment for the voyage, including 24/7 internet that will
enable the ship to interact with supporters, below the water line
cameras, a Remote Operating Vehicle camera and web cams. The crew will
be blogging, podcasting and vlogging (video blogging) from the ship and
producing programmes for the newly created web-based Greenpeace TV.
Notes to Editors:
(1) Pew Institute for Ocean Science
(2) Greenpeace is calling for 40% of the world’s oceans to be designated
as marine reserves. A global network of marine reserves would cost $12
billion dollars a year – the same as is spent annually on perfume in the
US and Europe.
(3) A loophole in the 1986 international moratorium on commercial
whaling governed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) allows
“scientific” whaling. The IWC established the Southern Ocean Whale
Sanctuary in 1994.
For more information, images and videos about the Defending Our Oceans
campaign and Southern Ocean Whaling go to: oceans.greenpeace.org