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A Whale of a day

Feature Story - 2006-01-19
With all the action in the Southern Ocean, it's good to remember that people all over the world -- our ocean defenders -- are working hard to defend our oceans back here on solid ground (and in cyberspace). The 17th of January was a big day with governments, activists, supermarkets and even Mother Nature helping to defend our oceans.

Greenpeace supporters take symbolic action against Japan's whaling in the Southern Ocean.

We have been joined by 17 governments in a call to the government of Japan to "cease its lethal scientific research on whales and assure the return of the vessels" from the Southern Ocean whale Sanctuary.

The 17 governments comprehensively denounced the so-called scientific hunt as a sham, noting that "Japan is now killing more whales in the Antarctic every year than it killed for scientific research in the 31 years prior to the introduction of the moratorium on commercial whaling." They further express "grave concerns" that the hunt "will undermine the long-term viability" of both fin and humpback whales.

Let's not forget that along with pressure from governments, global corporations like Nissui also have a role to play in bringing an end to the hunt. Japan's second-largest marine products company, Nissui owns one third of Kyodo Senpaku, which operates the whaling fleet. We are urging people to tell Nissui that "whaling is bad for business" and use its influence to stop whaling now.

Meanwhile in the UK, we had climbers scaling a building at the headquarters of ASDA - the supermarket chain owned by Walmart. Scoring just one point out of 20, ASDA came rock bottom of our recent league table with the least sustainable seafood policy of any UK supermarket. It was found to be selling at least 13 species on Greenpeace's 'danger list' including swordfish, marlin and Atlantic cod.

Climbers hung a massive banner with the ASDA logo and catchphrase 'That's ASDA Price' against a backdrop of mutilated and wasted fish caught as bycatch during destructive fishing. At the same time volunteers dressed as 'fishmongers,' accompanied by a mobile advertising van displaying the same billboard poster, toured the city, visiting one of ASDA's local stores to deliver the message to the supermarket's customers.

The action was a huge success. Within a hour of arriving at ASDA House, campaigners were invited inside to discuss policy. ASDA  agreed not only to publish a public policy on sourcing sustainable seafood within the next six weeks, but also to remove skate, dogfish (huss), dover sole and ling from its shelves with immediate effect. They've also agreed to look closely at taking similar action on swordfish and marlin within the next six weeks.

Video Defending Our Oceans: You can help! screened in Dam Square, Amsterdam.

Other events around the world starred the whale fluke -- on the beach in New Zealand, outside the White House in Washington DC and in Toronto, Canada. A giant video-wall was set up in Dam Square, Amsterdam playing our "Defending Our Oceans: You can help!" footage. Everywhere people are being asked to sign up to be an Ocean Defender - simply by adding your name to this very long list you can make a difference!

To complete the day, mother nature lent a helping hand, with atrocious weather conditions ensuring there was no whaling in the Southern Ocean Whaling Sanctuary.

Take action

Tell Nissui Europe to use its influence to stop whaling.