Japanese Whalers Return Empty-Handed
Japanese whaling ships returned home from the Antarctic research mission on Saturday with no catch onboard for the first time in nearly 30 years, the AFP informs.
This was the first research mission that did not involve lethal hunting of whales as harpoons were removed from the vessels.
The mission involved two ships, the 724-ton Yushinmaru and the 747-ton Daini (No 2) Yushinmaru, whose crews conducted sighting surveys and took samples.
This is the first mission in the wake of the ruling made by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, that banned hunting whales off Antarctica.
According to the ruling, Japan’s whaling program was not scientific in nature but more commercial, as the meat of the slaughtered whales was being sold commercially in Japan.
However, the country did not completely back down from its plans as the Government of Japan said it intended to return to the Southern Ocean to hunt whales this year.
The country has reduced its annual target to 333 minke whales, down from 900 set out under the previous programme.
The data collected within the mission will nevertheless be used for commercial whaling, according to Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, quoted by AFP as saying on the arrival of the ships at a port in western Shimonoseki city.
World Maritime News Staff