The last ship of the Japanese whaling fleet arrived in Japan today — and brought with it anger and frustration over one of the lowest catches in years.
“I am furious,” said the whaling fleet’s leader Shigetoshi Nishiwaki — who focused the blame directly on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s interference with whaling operations. “They say they want to protect the ocean,” he told the AFP. “But they don’t care about leaking oil or leaving pieces of a broken ship behind”, a reference to the sunken ship the Ady Gil. (Nishiwaki’s attack is rather weak when you consider all that the Sea Shepherd did to reduce pollution from the crippled Ady Gil.)
Japan’s Fisheries Agency announced that the fleet manged to catch “only” 507 whales — down from last year’s then-awful 680 — and well short of the 850 targeted for 2010. According to AFP, it was the smallest catch on record except for “the 2006-07 expedition when the fleet caught only 505 whales after a fire aboard a ship hampered whaling operations.” They also blamed a total of 31 days of harassment by the Sea Shepherd group; which is a bit short of the 33 claimed by Captain Paul Watson.
In total, these numbers spell more bad news for a whaling industry already reeling from falling demand and tenuous life support support from the Japanese government. If the Sea Shepherd’s goal is to sink the Japanese whaling fleet financially, increasingly low catches like this one are certain to push them one step closer.