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Esperanza ready to tow the Nisshin Maru out of danger - and prevent environmental disaster PDF Print E-mail
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The first thoughts of all of us on the Esperanza is for the crew of the Japanese whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru. We hope that news reports that one crew member is missing are incorrect and he or she is found safe and well.

At approximately 05.45 New Zealand time (NZDT) the Esperanza responded to a distress call from the Nisshin Maru.

We contacted the New Zealand Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), who gave the nature of the distress as a fire/explosion, and requested our assistance. We confirmed that the Esperanza would assist.

At 07.40 NZDT, New Zealand MRCC informed the Esperanza that we were no longer required. We have no details of the incident or what caused it.

We remain ready to assist with the emergency.

This is the third distress we’ve answered in six days. Last Friday, we offered assistance after two crew were lost from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Vessel, Robert Hunter, and on Monday, we also offered assistance following a collision between Sea Shepherd vessels and a Japanese whale spotting vessel. In both cases the Esperanza was stood down by New Zealand Marine Rescue Centre.

Right now, the Esperanza is less than 24 hours sailing from the disabled whaling factory ship, Nisshin Maru. We’ve made a commitment to the fleet that we will assist the crew in any way possible, and make an environmental impact assessment if needed. One crewmember of the Nisshin Maru is still missing and it’s reported in the media that the ship may be carrying approximately 1,000 tons of oil. The Nisshin Maru is also, apparently less than 100 nautical miles from the largest Adelie penguin colony in the world.

The Fisheries Agency of Japan has already refused help from us, labeling us “terrorists” - but the Esperanza is still continuing towards the stricken vessel.

The thing is - our first thoughts are for the missing crewman, as well as the rest of the people on board. We don’t think that this is any time be to playing politics from behind a desk in Tokyo. We’ve got a human tragedy and a potential environmental disaster on our hands, so we have a moral obligation to act. Plus, the Japanese government has a legal obligation, under the Antarctic Treaty, for the Nisshin Maru to accept our help. Source

Previous related blog posts: Penguin alert as whaler catches fire off Antarctic; Japan to host first unofficial meeting of global whaling body next month; Greenpeace Set to Confront Japanese Whalers; Watching Whales Summary

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