Sixteen hunting days were lost, the authorities said, because of poor weather and confrontations at sea between the activists and the fleet. Several hunting ships were damaged in collisions or by chemicals thrown by the protesters, chiefly the US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Japan gave up commercial whaling in 1986 after agreeing to a global moratorium. However, it continues to hunt whales in the name of scientific research, which is allowed under international rules. Whale meat not used for study is sold for consumption in Japan — which critics say is the real reason for the annual hunt. The meat can be found in supermarkets and restaurants across the country.
Many people in Japan regard whaling as a cherished cultural tradition, but consumption of whale meat is now low.
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