Japan has cut short its annual Antarctic whale hunt, claiming harassment by American activists has made it impossible to continue.
Japan’s fisheries ministry suspended the hunt last week after the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society chased the whaling fleet’s mothership.
But, it has now recalled all four of its ships in what is being seen as a major victory for the environmentalists. It is the first time the Japanese fleet has headed home early – one month before it was scheduled to leave and only reaching a fifth of its targeted catch.
Clashes between Japanese whalers and Sea Shepherd activists have escalated in recent years.
Japan insists the hunt is an important cultural tradition. The activists describe it as cruel and unnecessary.