27 Apr 2014

Whalers heading for northern Pacific

6:58 am on 27 April 2014

A fleet of Japanese whaling ships has sailed on the first hunt since the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered an end to the killing of whales in the Antarctic.

Four whalers left Ayukawa on Saturday for the northern Pacific.

The coastal whaling programme is not covered by the ICJ ruling - which found Japan's Southern Ocean expedition was a commercial activity masquerading as scientific research.

The case was taken to the Couirt by Australia, supported by New Zealand.

However, the Fisheries Ministry in Tokyo plans to continue hunting in the Pacific and is submitting proposals to return to Antarctica next year.

On Tuesday, a new poll showed 60 percent of Japanese people support the whaling programme, but only 14 percent eat whale meat.