The carcass of a fin whale lies on a truck in front of the Japanese embassy in Berlin January 19, 2006. The whale, which was 17 metres long and weighed some 20 tonnes died in the Baltic see ten days ago. It was placed by Greenpeace activists in front of the embassy to protest against Japan, which abandoned commercial whaling in 1986, in line with an international moratorium, but began catching whales again the following year for what it calls scientific research. PHOTO - REUTERS
BERLIN - Greenpeace activists parked a 20-tonne dead whale outside the Japanese embassy in Berlin to protest against the country's whaling programme last Thursday. Hundreds of people gathered to catch a glimpse of the 17-metre fin whale, which the environmental group transported to the German capital late on Wednesday on a trailer emblazoned with banners saying "Stop Whaling!" "This fin whale is one of the most endangered species in the world and Japan still hunts them," said Greenpeace spokeswoman Stefanie Werner. "It must stop." Greenpeace said it hoped the whale's presence would demonstrate to Japan the futility of its whaling programme, which has caused controversy for nearly 20 years. A spokesman for the Japanese embassy in Berlin said it regretted Greenpeace's move, adding the country's whaling activities were carried out in accordance with international agreements. Found stranded on Germany's Baltic coast last week, the whale returned there for an autopsy later on Thursday. "You don't get whales coming to Berlin too often," said Berlin police spokesman Bernhard Schodrowski.
Japan abandoned commercial whaling in 1986, in line with an international moratorium, but began catching whales again the following year for what it calls scientific research. Critics say the whale meat goes to up-market Japanese restaurants. Greenpeace told Reuters that Japanese hunters had killed at least 123 whales in the icy seas off the coast of Antarctica since the start of the whaling season this year, adding that its activists had managed to disrupt several hunts. Earlier this week, 17 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Britain, France and Germany, jointly called on Japan to put a stop to its Antarctic whaling programme.