Japanese whalers headed home from the Southern Ocean after quitting early this season because of harassment from activists, might not like their homecoming reception.
ABC News in Australia quotes Masayuki Komatsu, a former delegate to the International Whaling Commission, as calling the whalers' position "cowardly."
The whalers' so-called scientific whaling missions, conducted annually in Antarctic waters, are run by the Institute of Cetacean Research through the Fisheries Agency.
The decision to quite early, after killing only 174 minke whales and two fin whales (the annual quota is 900-plus), was made because of relentless harassment from members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
The ABC story also quotes restaurateur Michio Kono, whose specialties are whale steaks, stew and sashimi, as saying, "I think the government is full of cowards. Whale meat is delicious and healthy. It's part of our culture. This decision is pitiful."
Kono's statement is not accurate. Whale meat contains high levels of mercury and fewer people in Japan are buying it, judging from growing stockpiles in freezers around the country.
It's unclear whether Japan will carry out another Southern Ocean whale hunt next season.
-- Pete Thomas
Photo: Australian Customs Service file photo