The Hague: Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the mooring ropes of a ship in the Netherlands on Friday to stop it transporting a cargo of whale meat to Japan, police and the environmental group said.
Protesters took the action at 4:30 am (0230 GMT) against a Panamanian-flaggged vessel docked at Rotterdam which was carrying seven containers of meat from Iceland, said Greenpeace organiser Pavel Klinckhamers.
Police detached the activists more than seven hours later, Rotterdam police spokesman Tinet Dejonge said, adding that they had been interviewed and would have to pay a fine.
Greenpeace said 15 protesters were involved while police said there were only seven activists.
"Greenpeace has received assurances from Rotterdam police that the containers in which the whale meat is kept will not leave the port" following a decision by the vessel`s owner, the group said in a statement.
The ship is carrying 160 tonnes of meat from 13 endangered fin whales, the group said on its website.
The vessel was due to leave Rotterdam for Japan on Friday at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT), said police spokesman Dejonge.
The protest came on the day that Japan indicted a New Zealand activist who boarded a harpoon ship on charges including trespass and assault, the latest chapter in a long battle between environmentalists and Japanese whalers.
Iceland and Norway are the only two countries in the world that now authorise commercial whaling, while Japan officially allows whaling for scientific purposes, but the meat is then sold to restaurants and supermarkets.