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Sea Shepherd claims victory in whale hunt

Published: 3:05PM Sunday March 11, 2012 Source: AAP

Anti-whaling environmentalist group Sea Shepherd has claimed a victory during Japan's most recent whale hunt in the Antarctic Ocean.

Japan ended this season's hunt having caught less than a third of its original target, with only 266 taken in the Antarctic season just ended.

Japan blamed bad weather for the poor harvest.

But Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson claimed credit for the reduced catch, attributing it to their disruption of the fleet.

"We chased them for 17,000 miles back and forth along the Antarctic coast," he told the Nine Network's Sunday program.

"We kept two of the three harpoon vessels occupied for three months so I estimated they'd take about 30%, but they only took 26%, so it wasn't as good as last year but better than all the previous years."

Watson said the crew would have performed better if it had not lost its scout vessel at the beginning of the campaign.

Watson said its objective from the start was to sink the whalers economically and they had succeeded.

"They're quite angry of course. They have to take 600 whales just to break even," he said.

"They're only continuing to go down there out of pride."

Tokyo has rejected international criticism of its whaling operations.