Japan Ends Seasonal Whale Hunt Early

Japan’s whaling fleet ended its seasonal hunt in the Antarctic early, due to clashes with anti-whaling activists.

Fisheries Minister Michihiko Kano made the announcement Friday, stating: "It has become difficult to secure the fleet’s safety. We have no choice but to cut short our research."

Japan is one of three countries that continues to hunt whales for food, though it does so under a "research" loophole in international whaling treaties. 

The anti-whaling activist group that stymied the hunt is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society–whose notoriety has increased with the television show Whale Wars

The group suggested finances–not safety–may have led to the hunt being called off. ""Each year we’re costing them more and more money. It’s a heavily subsidized hunt and they’re spending and losing millions so we’re very much hurting them in the pocket," Jeff Hansen, Sea Shepherd’s Australian director, told Reuters by telephone.

The whaling fleet killed 170 mink whales, according to reports–representing only about one-fifth of the targeted catch. 

Japan Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Sea Shepherd’s activities were an "unforgivable" act of "sabotage".

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