TOKYO — The mother ship of Japan's last whaling fleet departed today for the South Pole to catch 300 minke whales for what Japan called scientific research to assess the mammals' population.
Conservationists said the mission of the Nisshin Maru No. 3 was whaling "under a different name." "From our point, this is not legitimate science," said Anne Dingwall, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace. "It's a disguise for commerce." Whale meat, a source of protein for the Japanese in the lean years after World War II, is considered a delicacy. Non-edible portions are used for products ranging from tennis rackets to cosmetics.