After less than successful numbers from this year’s hunt in the Southern Ocean — thanks in large part to obstructions by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society — Japan today launched a new effort with a target of killing 260 whales in the Northwest Pacific.
According to the Institute of Cetacean Research, three harpoon and two research ships set sail from three separate ports in Japan with more than 200 crew. Though the fleet has never faced any protest opposition in the Pacific, officials there are taking no chances. “We cannot rule out any possibilities,” said Japan’s Fisheries Agency official Hiroshi Kawamura. “Crews are trained for any contingencies.”
The fleet, led by the Nisshin Maru mother ship, plans to catch 100 minke whales, 100 sei whales, 50 Bryde’s whales and 10 sperm whales before returning in late August.
The hunt comes on the even of the annual IWC meeting on June 21st– where a hard push to lift the ban on commercial whaling is expected to be debated.