Japan’s whaling haul had a “record low” this year, according to a government minister, who blames the activists for “unforgivably sabotaging” the hunt.
Japan’s whaling fleet netted just 103 Antarctic minke whales, less than half its tally last year, and no fin whales, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Friday, adding it was the lowest total since “research whaling” began in 1987.
The fleet was harassed by the United States environmentalist group Sea Shepherd, according to Hayashi, and will return to Japan over the next few days.
Sea Shepherd interrupted the hunt four times; out of the total 48-day-long whaling expedition, the Japanese fleet spent 21 days avoiding the militants’ vessels, the Fisheries Agency said.
Sea Shepherd committed “unforgivable sabotage”, Hayashi said.
“We will seek more support from other countries to conduct research whaling in a stable manner,” the minister added, according to the international press.
Japan’s whale hunt has been long criticized by activists and international governments, especially by Australia’s and New Zealand’s officials. However, Tokyo keeps the practice, motivating that eating whale meat is a local culinary custom.
But Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke was uncompromising on Friday.
“Our position is clear, that is 103 whales too many,” he said. “That is why we are taking Japan to the International Court of Justice to stop this practice forever.”