Japan’s whaling fleet has returned from its Antarctic hunt in the name of scientific research with 333 minke whales, despite international criticism.
The final three ships of the five-vessel fleet arrived at Shimonoseki port on Friday after the 83-day hunt in the Southern Ocean, Japan’s Fisheries Agency said.
“Since a majority of both the males and females taken were mature, this indicates that the species is reproducing healthily,” it said.
Japan intends to take nearly 4000 whales over the next 12 years for its research program, with the ultimate goal of resuming commercial whaling.
It has repeatedly shrugged off repeated international protests.
Australia said in January it was “deeply disappointed” that Japan had continued its hunt, just days after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had discussed it with his Tokyo counterpart, Shinzo Abe.
The International Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that Japan should halt Antarctic whaling and Japan suspended its hunt for one season to retool its whaling program. It resumed hunting in the 2015-16 season.
The Humane Society International condemned the most recent hunt.
“There is no robust scientific case for slaughtering whales,” executive vice-president Kitty Block said.