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Asia Dive News : Japanese fleet suspends whaling, Greenpeace says

Greenpeace says a Japanese fishing fleet in the Southern Ocean has abandoned its whaling activities for the time being, while it tries to shake off the environmental group's tagging ships.

Greenpeace has dogged the whaling operation for days and says the Japanese fleet has now steamed north at high speed away from the ice shelf.

Greenpeace chief executive Steve Shallhorn says today has brought good and bad news.

"The good news is that no whaling has happened since yesterday, the bad news is that Prime Minister John Howard seems to be hiding from public pressure, claims he can't do anything to save the whales and that's just not good enough," he said.

A sick Japanese sailor is being treated in Hobart after a medical evacuation this afternoon, avoiding anti-whaling protesters.

The man in his 20s was winched from the Japanese whaling ship Kaiko Maru, about 50 nautical miles off Tasman Island in the state's south-east.

The sick crew member was flown by helicopter to Hobart.

He was taken by ambulance to the Royal Hobart Hospital, where he is being treated for appendicitis.

His arrival caught anti-whaling protesters off guard.

They had gathered in Hobart to protest against the ship's scheduled arrival tomorrow.

The Kaiko Maru is now expected to return to the Southern Ocean.

Greenpeace says it will go ahead with the anti-whaling protest in Hobart tomorrow, even though the ship is returning.

Greenpeace campaigner Jason Collins says he is still expecting people to gather on Hobart's waterfront tomorrow to voice their opposition to whaling, and he has called on the Federal Government to take a stronger stand.

"Instead of simply using diplomatic routes they can use this as an opportunity I guess to put their foot down so that the Japanese Government gets a very clear message that this is unacceptable," he said.

Source: ABC