Another season of whale nonsense is about to kickoff:
Japan’s whaling fleet left port Tuesday for the country’s annual hunt in Antarctica, press pictures showed, with security measures beefed up amid simmering international protests.
Three ships, led by the 720-tonne Yushin Maru, set sail from Shimonoseki in western Japan on a mission officially said to be for “scientific research”, according to local media reports.
In past years, a mother ship has joined them later.
The government’s fishery agency declined to confirm the reports, citing security reasons.
“In consideration of safety, we cannot make public the timing of the fleet’s departure and its operational plans,” Shinji Hiruma, an official of the agency’s international division, told AFP.
He only confirmed that in “usual years” the fleet left port in November or December and returned around March.
In February, Japan cut short its hunt for the 2010-2011 season by one month after bagging only one fifth of its planned catch, blaming interference from the US-based environmental group Sea Shepherd.
The fleet aims to catch around 900 minke and fin whales this season, according to a plan submitted by the government to the International Whaling Commission. [AFP]
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