Three ships – two Japanese whaling ships and a surveillance vessel – sailed to the Antarctic Sea last Saturday for the annual whale hunt. The ships left the western port of Shimonoseki to hunt for around a 1000 Antarctic minke and fin whales up until March of next year, as reported by Kyodo News.
Whale hunts in Japan have been drawing a lot of criticisms from both local and foreign activists and governments, and it is for this reason that the Fisheries Agency did not disclose the schedule of the ships departure, to avoid militant anti-whaling groups, such as Sea Shepherd, from protesting and putting up any impediment on the departure.
The Japanese government defended the activity, saying that eating whale has always been part of their culinary tradition, and the whaling research institute, to prove that they can sustain commercial whaling, closely studies them. Activists on the other hand, accused the activity of “research whaling” as a cover up for commercial whaling which is prohibited under international agreements.
Sea Shepherd been successful in the past in hindering whale catches, as the country has reported a record-low catch of 103 Antarctic mink whales last year.