Berlin ’s landmark Brandenburg Gate was decorated with… corpses of 17 small whales and dolphins on Monday in a dramatic action by Greenpeace activists to urge countries to resist increasing pressure for a resumption of commercial whaling.
Some of the animals died after getting trapped in fish nets and drowning, while others showed the scars of ships' propellers where they had been hit, the activists said.
The gruesome collection, kept in a trough of ice under the hot sun, represented the number of whales and dolphins that die every half-hour or so through human impact, protest organizers said.
In a year, 300,000 whales and dolphins drown in fishing nets, "and it is impossible to calculate how many more fall victim to pollution, ship strikes, the impacts of sonar or climate change," Greenpeace marine biologist Stefanie Werner said.
"How can pro-whaling nations justify hunting them as well?" she said.
The bodies were collected over the last two to three months from beaches on France's Atlantic coast, the English Channel and Germany's North Sea and Baltic coasts, Greenpeace said.
Next week, the International Whaling Commission holds a meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, where Japan is expected to push for a moratorium on commercial whaling to be overturned.
Greenpeace chose to stage its protest in Germany because the country currently holds the presidency of the Group of Eight industrialized countries, spokesman Bjoern Jettka said.
Germany, a member of the IWC, also holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, which bans member states from commercial fishing and supports the IWC moratorium. The EU holds IWC observer status.
"The action is a general call on German politicians, but it's now particularly important because Germany has the presidencies of the EU and G-8," Jettka said.
Japan has been on a diplomatic drive to win support for its bid to overturn the 20-year moratorium on commercial whaling ahead of this year's annual IWC meeting on May 28-31. Japan and its supporters are expected to clash there with opponents to its commercial whaling bid including the U.S., Australia, Britain and New Zealand.
Already, Tokyo has conducted scientific whaling allowed by the IWC since its 1986 ban on commercial hunting.
Anti-whaling countries and environmental groups say the program is a disguise for commercial whaling.