Three Japanese whaling vessels returned to the southwestern Japan port of Shimonoseki on Friday after hunting 333 minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean as planned, the Fisheries Agency said.
The vessels, which conducted what Japan calls “scientific whaling” for the second time in the sea since an international court ruled against the practice in 2014, encountered little interference from an antiwhaling group during the hunts, according to the agency.
Sea Shepherd Australia had expressed its intention to block Japan’s whaling.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yuji Yamamoto told a press conference in Tokyo on Friday that Sea Shepherd’s attitude “seems to have somewhat softened” as it kept a relatively low-profile this time.
The 8,145-ton mother ship Nisshin Maru and two whaling vessels — the 747-ton Yushin Maru No. 2 and the 742-ton Yushin Maru No. 3 — arrived at the port in Yamaguchi Prefecture in the morning. They had left for the hunting mission last November.
In fiscal 2014 through March 2015, Japan only conducted visual surveys in response to the International Court of Justice ruling but resumed whaling based on a new plan the following year. The new plan has set a significantly lower catch target than its predecessor.