In a repeat of last year's events, Japan's whaling fleet is heading home, after catching far fewer whales than it had intended. Harassment by Sea Shepherd has again been cited by Japanese authorities as a key factor in the lower catch numbers.
At the start of the whale hunt season Japan had hoped to catch 900 whales—supposedly for scientific research, but widely acknowledged outside of Japan, for commercial sale. Instead, they actually caught 266 minke whales and 1 fin whale.An official from Japan's Fisheries Agency, quoted by BBC News:
The catch was smaller than planned due to factors including weather conditions and sabotage acts by activists. There were definitely sabotage campaigns behind the figure.
Sea Shepherd commented on the end of this year's hunt and the closure of their Operation Divine Wind:
It has been a long and difficult campaign and although handicapped by the temporary loss of the scout vessel the Brigitte Bardot, the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker were able to chase the Japanese whaling fleet for more than 17,000 miles, giving them little time to kill whales. In addition, two of the three harpoon vessels spent more time tailing the two Sea Shepherd ships than killing whales.
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