Japan’s whaling fleet has seemingly made its way out of the Antarctic Ocean whale sanctuary and looks to be heading home with a record low haul, the activist environmental group Sea Shepherd revealed. Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said on Saturday that this year his group’s “enormously successful” harassment campaign of Japan’s annual whale hunt will result in the whalers’ lowest haul in history, with “no more than 75″ whales harvested.
This total, if accurate, is a stark contrast to the 267 whales caught last year and is well below the Institute of Cetacean Research’s targets this year of 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales. Watson is not exactly sure if the whaling season is over, but they are positive that it may very well be, since the Japanese whaling fleet is now “north of 60 degrees and out of the Southern (Antarctic) Ocean Whale Sanctuary”. Watson said that the whaling fleets fuel re-supply tanker, the Panamanian ship Sun Laurel, was around 2 days away from the whaling fleet’s mother vessel the Nisshin Maru. It will take another four days for the fleet to return to the Antarctic whale sanctuary, which Watson says is now looking unlikely as “this would leave only around a week to kill whales.” And with the weather rapidly deteriorating, continuing with the hunt may not be the wisest option and not worth the effort.
The global condemnation and the increasingly bold and active harassment of the Japanese whale hunt by Sea Shepherd has intensified over the years, yet Japan continues to hunt the aquatic mammals under a scientific research loophole in the global moratorium on whaling. The Japanese government does not deny the fact that the whale meat ends up as food on dinner tables and restaurants. Last month, Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi declared that Japan would never stop its whaling operations, describing the environmental action against them by nations including Australia as “prejudice against the Japanese culture.”