International environmental group Greenpeace will set sail from New Zealand on Friday to again confront Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean, kicking off its 2007 anti-whaling campaign.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- International environmental group Greenpeace will set sail from New Zealand on Friday to again confront Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean, kicking off its 2007 anti-whaling campaign.
The campaign aims to prevent as many whale deaths as possible and to raise awareness in Japan of the whaling season which began last month, team leader Karli Thomas told reporters on Thursday.
A global moratorium on commercial whaling has existed since 1986, but Japan kills hundreds of whales each year under a scientific whaling programme. Critics say the whale meat ends up in up-market Japanese restaurants.
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza will sail from Auckland on New Zealand's north island for the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to try and come between the whalers and their prey.
Thomas said 82 whales were saved during the 2006 campaign by Greenpeace by manoeuvring its small inflatable boats between the Japanese harpooners and the whales.
"It is risky and the environment of the Southern Ocean has its own risks but everyone on board acknowledges the risks," said Thomas.
The expedition is expected to last upto seven weeks.
Greenpeace said confronting Japanese whalers will only be part of its 2007 strategy, with an Internet and television campaign launched on Thursday to target Japanese society.
"We want to work with the two-thirds majority at home who share our view, so a clear message is sent from the people of Japan to their own government to get out of whaling," said Junichi Sato, from Greenpeace Japan, speaking from Auckland.
"Ninety five percent of Japanese people have never eaten whale meat or rarely eaten whale meat," Sato said.
The Esperanza will take about a week to reach the whaling ground. The Southern Ocean whaling season runs December to March.