Japan blamed environmental activists for a “record low” take during this year’s whaling season in the Southern Ocean, reports Kyodo News.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the recent hunt yielded only 103 Antarctic minke whales and no fin whales, according to the agency’s web site. The target had been 1,000 whales for the 48-day whaling season.
Hayashi said relentless harassment by Sea Shepherd, an anti-whaling group, disrupted the hunt four times and forced Japanese vessels to spent three weeks evading the environmentalists. He called Sea Shepherd’s actions “unforgivable sabotage”.
Japan says its whale harvest is for scientific purposes, but environmentalists and several foreign governments argue that it is largely a commercial activity, noting that the meat is sold in Japanese markets. Japan has also been criticized for its annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins, an issue that was the subject of the 2009 Oscar winning documentary, The Cove.
Japan has been conducting “research whaling” since 1987.
Humpback whale in Alaska