Andrew Darby in Hobart
July 28, 2011
The Japanese Government is formally weighing up
its whaling fleet's Antarctic future - including for the first time an
option to not return south.
A Fisheries Agency of Japan review
committee has taken evidence on all options, with most wanting to
continue despite conservationist harassment, the well-informed
newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun said.
It said a minority opinion of the
committee acknowledged that, after 25 years, Japan had failed to gain
international support for the research, and proposed that it be scaled
down or halted.
The review committee was set up in April to take
expert opinion on whether Japan should continue whaling in the
Antarctic, Yomiuri said.
For the first time last season, the Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society's three ships were able to outlast the
With the key factory ship Nisshin Maru unable to break free
of pursuit, the whalers managed to catch only 172 whales from a
self-awarded quota of up to 985.
At the recent International
Whaling Commission meeting in Jersey, Britain, Japan's commissioner Kenji
Kagawa said the government made the difficult decision to recall the
whaling fleet part way through its season last February to protect human
"But I would like to stress that our decision does not
indicate any change in Japan's whaling policy," Mr Kagawa said.
However, the Fisheries Agency that supervises the fleet has been unable to
obtain support for the ships from the Japan Coast Guard.
If the fleet
is to return, it must find a way to secure ships and whalers against
harassment by Sea Shepherd.
Yomiuri said the review's majority
stated: "Research whaling is justified on the basis of an international
treaty. It should be continued without yielding to heinous interference."
The minority said: "If we cannot gain understanding on the research
whaling in the international community, we should scale it down or halt