One hundred and seventy-seven whales have been killed by Japanese whalers in the north-west Pacific Ocean as part of an annual hunt, Japan’s Fisheries Ministry said on Tuesday.
The number of whales killed had been previously stipulated for the hunt, which Japan says is carried out in the name of scientific research.
This year, 43 minke and 134 sei whales were killed, the ministry said.
Whaling is formally allowed in Japan in spite an international moratorium banning the killing of the giant sea mammals for commercial purposes in place since 1986, and repeated public protests against it.
Critics said that the country uses a loophole in the charter of the International Whaling Commission by claiming that the killings are carried out for research purposes.
After the animal carcasses are examined, including the stomach contents, the meat could be sold for consumption.