Battered Japanese Whalers Return
The Japanese whaling fleet has returned to port 305 whales short of their target. They were hounded in their Antarctic hunting grounds by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, aboard the Steve Irwin.
The exchanges between the Sea Shepherd members and the whalers became increasingly hostile and spokesman Paul Watson says they broke off the chase in February because the situation had become too dangerous.
Japan's whaling fleet has returned to its home port after violent clashes with anti-whaling activists damaged its ships and left the Antarctic hunting season's catch well short of its target, officials have said.
Officials said the six vessels had caught 679 minke whales and one fin whale during its five-month hunt, short of the targeted 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales in the hunt that began in November.
The Sea Shepherd which chased the Japanese fleet more than 3,200km through the Antarctic ocean withdrew in February after increasingly hostile exchanges between the two sides.
Japanese officials have also described the environmentalists as "terrorists" and "pirates", and demanded the Australian take action against Sea Shepherd.
The Japanese government is allowed to kill whales for scientific research purposes, however whale meat is sold at Japanese supermarkets and high priced eateries. Many conservationists dispute that there is a scientific need for nearly a thousand whales to be killed for research in one year.