Thousands join call to turn whale ship away

2014-04-11 00:00

MORE than 4 000 people, mostly South Africans, yesterday signed a petition by Greenpeace asking the government to refuse entry to to a ship with a cargo of Icelandic whale meat.

Shanaaz Nel of Greenpeace said the conservation group reported this week that a Norwegian ship with 2 000 tons of the meat of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) on board is rounding the Cape bound for Japan.

She said that Greenpeace immediately sent letters to parties including Transnet’s National Ports Authority requesting that the ship be refused entry to any South African harbour.

By 5 pm yesterday the ship was sailing past Cape Town harbour after Greenpeace sighted it near Saldanha Bay on the West Coast earlier.

“We believe the ship is bound for East London or Durban. We are pleading with the South African government to turn this ship away,” said Nel.

She said South Africa was one of the founders of the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in 1973. In terms of Cites, fin whales may not be hunted, and no trade in their products is allowed.

Iceland, Norway and Japan are not members of the Cites system.

Nel said they had not had a definitive answer to their request from the ports authority.

Sister paper Beeld also received no response to written and telephonic queries yesterday.

Mike Baillie of Greenpeace said it is clear the fight against whale hunting is not yet over. Just last week, the International Criminal Court refused to allow Japan to hunt whales near Antarctica.

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