Japan whaling haul at 'record low'

Apr 05, 2013
Fishermen slaughter a bottlenose whale at port, east of Tokyo, on June 25, 2008. The haul from Japan's whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean was a "record low" this year, a government minister said, blaming "unforgivable sabotage" by activists.

The haul from Japan's whaling mission in the Southern Ocean was a "record low" this year, a government minister said, blaming "unforgivable sabotage" by activists.

The hunt netted just 103 Antarctic , less than half its tally last year, and no , Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said, adding it was the lowest total since "research whaling" began in 1987.

The fleet, which was again harassed by militant environmentalist group Sea Shepherd, is due to arrive back in Japan over the next few days, Hayashi told a press conference.

During the 48-day-long whaling expedition, campaigners—labelled "pirates" earlier this year by a US judge—disrupted the hunt four times and the Japanese ships spent 21 days avoiding their vessels, the Fisheries Agency said.

Sea Shepherd committed "unforgivable sabotage", Hayashi said, according to Kyodo News, including a collision with a whaling vessel as it was being refuelled.

"We will seek more support from other countries to conduct research whaling in a stable manner," the minister said.

Japan's annual has long drawn criticism from activists and foreign governments, but Tokyo defends the practice saying eating whale is part of the country's culinary tradition.

Captured , later sold as food, are studied as part of a bid by Japan's whaling research institute to prove their populations can sustain . Activists charge Tokyo uses the loophole to get around an international ban on hunting.

Graphic on Japan's annual whale catch, at a record low of 103 this year, according to data released by the government. Japan's annual whale hunt has long drawn criticism from activists and foreign governments, but Tokyo defends the practice saying eating whale is part of the country's culinary tradition.

Norway and Iceland are the only nations that hunt whales in open defiance of a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.

Japan's whaling fleet left port in December aiming to catch about 1,000 whales.

Sea Shepherd, whose founder Paul Watson is an international fugitive, has doggedly pursued the and makes no secret of the fact it employs highly confrontational tactics.

The organisation's ships Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Sam Simon returned from their campaign this year with an estimated Aus$1.0 million (US$1.03 million) damage bill after run-ins with Japanese whalers.

Their fourth ship, the Brigitte Bardot, was at an undisclosed location with Watson, wanted by Interpol after skipping bail last July in Germany, thought to be on board.

The two sides have in the past clashed violently in exchanges that have seen stink bombs thrown at Japanese crew and water jets trained on protesters.

The bitter fight has also reached the legal arena with both sides filing lawsuits against the other.

Ships from the environmental group Sea Shepherd surround a supply vessel (back R) for Japan's whaling ship Nisshin Maru (not pictured), on February 20, 2013. Japan's whaling fleet left port in December aiming to catch about 1,000 whales.

Last month Sea Shepherd filed a lawsuit in the Netherlands against the crew of Japanese whaling ship Nisshin Maru alleging piracy and attempted manslaughter after they clashed in the Antarctic Ocean in February.

Japan's Institute for Cetacean Research has in turn accused Sea Shepherd boats of ramming the Nisshin Maru.

In a colourful pronouncement, a US appeals court in February labelled Sea Shepherd "pirates", overturning a lower court's ruling against Japanese whalers.

The same court in December ordered to maintain a distance of 500 metres (yards) from Japanese whaling ships.

Questions remain about the economic viability of whaling given the decades-long decline in Japanese consumption of the meat.

A report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare recently said the whaling programme costs Japanese taxpayers $10 million a year.

However, the Fisheries minister Hayashi told AFP in an interview earlier this year that the hunt would continue, dismissing anti-whaling voices as "a cultural attack, a kind of prejudice against Japanese culture".

Explore further: Monarch butterflies plummet 90 percent, need protection

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Japan to continue Antarctic whaling: farm minister

Oct 04, 2011

Japan will go ahead with its annual whale hunt in Antarctica while boosting security to guard against possible harassment by environmental protesters, the agriculture and fisheries minister said Tuesday.

Japan vows to keep whale hunt after activist clash

Feb 21, 2013

Japan vowed to continue its whale hunt in the Southern Ocean after clashes with the militant conservationist Sea Shepherd group, which claimed Tokyo had been forced to end the mission.

Activists say Japanese whalers 'rammed' ships

Feb 20, 2013

Environmental campaigners from the militant Sea Shepherd group said on Wednesday a Japanese whaling ship had "rammed" its vessels in a skirmish in the Southern Ocean.

Japan will never stop whaling, minister says

Feb 26, 2013

Japan's fisheries minister said Tuesday his country will never stop hunting whales, despite fierce criticism from other nations and violent clashes at sea with militant conservationists.

Recommended for you

French beetles tackle Great Southern cattle dung

20 hours ago

A two-year survey of dung beetle populations in Australia's south-west has pinpointed Kojonup as the WA release site most likely to establish a new population of French dung beetles.

Norway fishermen post record-breaking whale haul

Aug 25, 2014

Fishermen in Norway have caught 729 whales this year, the highest number since it resumed the controversial practice in defiance of international pressure, industry sources said on Monday.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

soyham
1 / 5 (2) Apr 05, 2013
The hunt will continue!!!.........so as the tsunami.,earthquake.,! that's "karma"!!!!!
RNRDOCTOR
not rated yet Apr 07, 2013
Just Bomb Japan! And china, Russia and north Korea!
soyham
not rated yet Apr 07, 2013
Just Bomb Japan! And china, Russia and north Korea!


What's got to do with the other countries? you need a freaking doctor!