Japan kills 333 whales in annual Antarctic hunt

Japanese whaling fleets have returned from Antarctica with 333 butchered bodies of minke whales in what officials are calling "ecological research". This year the fleet returned with 333 whales.

The vessels, which conducted what Japan calls "scientific whaling" for the second time in the sea since an worldwide court ruled against the practice in 2014, encountered little interference from an antiwhaling group during the hunts, according to the agency. "We will steadily continue our research toward a resumption of commercial whaling", Fisheries Agency official Shigeto Hase said at a welcome ceremony in Shimonoseki, home port for the fleet's mother ship, Nisshin Maru.

The Fisheries Agency said the five-ship fleet finished its four-month expedition without major interference from anti-whaling activists who have attempted to stop it in the past.

Kitty Block, executive vice president of HSI, said: "Each year that Japan persists with its discredited scientific whaling is another year where these wonderful animals are needlessly sacrificed".

Three Minke whales are pictured on the deck of the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru inside what Sea Shepherd Australia says is an internationally recognised whale sanctuary in this handout image dated January 5, 2014.

Japan intends to take almost 4000 whales over the next 12 years for its research program, with the ultimate goal of resuming commercial whaling. Whale catches have declined over the years and the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd is part of the reason why reports NPR.

Japan has hunted and eaten whales for centuries.

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. "It is an obscene cruelty in the name of science that must end".

"Japan will have to submit its proposed catch to a scientific working group within the IWC".

"There is no robust scientific case for slaughtering whales", she added.

Greenpeace called Norwegian whaling "a dying industry" and said it was wrong of Norway to violate global agreement.

  • Lila Blake