FIVE Japanese whaling ships will return to Japan later this week after killing 440 minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean under the country’s ”research” whaling programme, the Japanese government said on Wednesday.
The crew of the vessels, which are due to dock on Thursday in three different ports, observed 5 460 minke whales in 2 289 pods, the Fisheries Agency said in a statement.
”This research whaling was conducted under international laws … with the aim of collecting data about whale resources and to study the environment and ecology of the Antarctic Ocean,” it said.
”This research fleet met persistent obstruction from Greenpeace.
We, however, were able to accomplish the mission with few adverse effects (from the protests) by formally protesting Greenpeace’s action,” it said.
Japan stopped commercial whaling in 1988, in line with the International Whaling Commission’s moratorium adopted in 1982 and which took effect in 1986.
But it began what it calls ”research” whaling in 1987 using a loophole in the 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling permitting the killing of hundreds of minke and other whales a year for research purposes.
Before the fleet’s departure for the Antartic, New Zealand attacked Japan for its ”despicable” decision to kill minke whales there. – Sapa-AFP