Japan’s whaling fleet has temporarily suspended its yearly Antarctic whale hunt, after Sea Shepherd anti-whaling activists continually obstructed the whaling fleet. The whalers cited harassment by activists, and are considering ending the hunt early.
A Japanese Fisheries Agency official has said, “We are now studying the situation, including the possibility of cutting the mission early”.
Peter Hammarstedt from Sea Shepherd has told ABC News in Australia, “I see victory on the horizon”.
Sea Shepherd asserts that it is having its most successful season so far, in its struggle against whalers in the Southern Ocean. They have not yet claimed victory in this year’s battle, as they await the whaling fleet’s return to Japan.
Sea Shepherd maintains that it has cost the fleet millions of dollars in profit, and saved hundreds of whales from certain death. The Japanese fleet has only managed to kill between 30 to 100 whales, out of a quota of 1,035. In last year’s hunt, the whaling fleet managed to kill 506 minke whales.
In 2010, Australia filed a complaint against Japan in the world court in The Hague to stop Southern Ocean scientific whaling. An outcome from that is not expected until 2013 or beyond.
Japan is one of only three countries that continue to hunt whales. Norway and Iceland are the other countries.
Under a provision of the International Whaling Commission’s commercial whaling ban, Japan is allowed to hunt around 1,000 whales annually, for scientific research purposes.