OSLO (Reuters) - Activists said on Thursday they sank a whaling ship in a Norwegian port last month in an anti-hunt protest.
Police say they do not know the cause of the sinking of the red and white Willassen Senior vessel, by the quay in Svolvaer, north Norway, on August 31, but say that the leak may have come from an open valve. The vessel was being raised on Thursday.
A group calling itself Agenda 21 said on a U.S.-based Web site that it scuppered the ship.
“After ensuring that the vessel was unoccupied the salt water intake valve was opened, unleashing a torrent of water into the heart of the killer ship,” it said. There was no way of verifying the statement.
The group, which did not name those involved, said it was “celebrating the end of commercial whaling in Iceland” by sinking a vessel in a Norwegian port. Reykjavik said last month that it would not issue new permits for hunts until demand rises and it can sell meat to Japan.
Several whaling ships have been targeted by saboteurs since Norway resumed commercial hunts in 1992 despite a moratorium by the International Whaling Commission.
This year, Norway’s whalers harpooned 592 minke whales, far short of a quota of 1052. Whale meat is sold as steaks but demand has lagged quotas.
“If it turns out that this is sabotage then it’s not just a terrorist attack against the Willassen Senior but against the whole of Norway,” local mayor Hugo Bjoernstad told the online version of Lofotposten, a north Norway daily.
The police inspector in charge of the investigation, Kjetil Woldstad, said in a statement: “There have been signs that the leakage that led to the sinking may be linked to an open valve in the boat’s machine room.”
He said more information would be given on Friday.
“Agenda 21” was also the name of a plan for the 21st century to foster economic growth that did not damage the environment agreed at a 1992 summit in Rio de Janeiro.