From: Paul Schaefer, ENN
Published December 18, 2007 07:18 PM

Companies Linked to Japanese Whaling; Conservationists Call for Action

YARMOUTH PORT, Mass. - In letters released today, Humane Society International, the Environmental Investigation Agency and the International Fund for Animal Welfare urged three Japanese seafood companies and their U.S. subsidiaries to use their influence with the Japanese government to end the imminent slaughter of nearly 1,000 whales in a whale sanctuary around Antarctica. Today's action coincides with the arrival of the Japanese whaling fleet in the international sanctuary.

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Japanese seafood giants Nippon Suisan, Kyokuyo and Maruha jointly owned and operated Japan's whaling fleet for decades and devised a plan to significantly expand Japanese whaling in the 2007/2008 whaling season. Under the plan, first announced in 2005, more than 1,000 whales will be hunted in the internationally recognized Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary over the next three months, including 50 endangered fin whales, 50 humpback whales and 935 minke whales. Later in 2008, Japan will continue to target endangered whales in the North Pacific.

All three Japanese companies have previously stated they would stop selling whale products after international pressure was exerted on their U.S. subsidiaries and trading partners. However, the companies have refused to shut down the whaling fleet, or withdraw their expanded whaling plan. Instead, the companies enabled the plan's continuation by passing their shares to the whaling institute, (the Institute of Cetacean Research-ICR) and non-profit entities.

"It is not enough that these companies are no longer actively participating in the slaughter; they are obligated to make amends by actively trying to stop the whale hunt altogether," said Kitty Block, vice president of Humane Society International. "Twenty-plus years of corporate irresponsibility for killing these endangered animals does not end overnight simply because they hand off the business to someone else to continue the slaughter. Our groups have more than 12 million supporters who expect these companies to clean up the mess they made."

"These companies have a lot of dead whales to answer for," said Patrick Ramage, global whale program manager for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. "They set this plan in motion and put the humpbacks, fins and other whales in the gunsights. They must act now to stop what they started and prevent the illegal killing of these protected species."

"We have appealed to Nippon Suisan, Kyokuyo and Maruha to close their whaling fleet and end their 20-year effort to undercut the ban on commercial killing of whales," said Allan Thornton, President of the Environmental Investigation Agency. "They rejected our appeals to close their whaling fleet and conspired to allow the hunt not only to continue but to be expanded to kill endangered humpback and fin whales."

For further information, contact: Humane Society International: Heather Sullivan, 301.548.7778; hsullivan@humanesociety.org

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