Stranded Japanese whaler returns home with 508 Minke whales - Ships Nostalgia

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Stranded Japanese whaler returns home with 508 Minke whales

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Old 28th March 2007, 15:23
rushie rushie is offline  
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Stranded Japanese whaler returns home with 508 Minke whales

From the Australian Daily Telegraph -

THE Japanese whaling ship that caught fire and was stranded near the Antarctic coast returned to port today with a haul of 508 whales after cutting short its trip.

The fire aboard the Nisshin Maru, the 8000-tonne flagship of Japan's whaling fleet, in February left it crippled and raised fears that oil or chemicals could spill into the Southern Ocean, close to the world's biggest Adelie penguin breeding colony.

Japan's whaling is a focus for protests by environmental groups, who say it is cruel and violates a 1986 global ban on commercial whaling.

It was the first time in 20 years that Japan was forced to shorten its Antarctic whaling expedition, and its fleet took 505 minke whales and three fin whales instead of a planned 850 minkes and 10 fin whales.

Plans for the rest of the year, including whether the ship can return to service for next season's hunt, have yet to be determined, a Fisheries Agency official said.

"Everything depends on the results of our inspections of the ship, but the fact that it returned all the way to Japan on its own suggests there aren't major machinery problems," he said.

Japan began what it calls "scientific research whaling" after commercial whaling was banned. The meat from the whales it catches ends up on supermarket shelves and restaurant tables, although it is far from a daily menu choice for most Japanese.

This season's hunt was marked by violent clashes with activists, including one in which acid was poured onto the decks of the Nisshin Maru and slightly injured two crew members, and another in which protest vessels collided with another ship.

After the fire broke out, the environmental group Greenpeace offered to tow the stricken Nisshin Maru with its anti-whaling ship, Esperanza, but Japan declined, saying it could get help from nearby Japanese vessels if necessary.

Japan, which claims whaling is a cultural tradition, has expressed increasing frustration with the International Whaling Commission in recent years.

Last month it hosted a special meeting of the commission aimed at shifting its focus to whale management and away from the whaling ban and repeated a threat to leave the group if changes were not made within months.

Well there we are....nice to know our Jap(anese) friends will be "suitably replete"....all in the name of "RESEARCH"....

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