27 Apr 2011

Whale hunt begins despite tsunami damage

11:45 am on 27 April 2011

Japanese whalers have launched their annual coastal hunt, with crews from a town destroyed by the 11 March tsunami taking part.

The ABC reports five crews from the town of Ayukawa have joined the hunt, even though the tsunami destroyed Ayukawa Whaing's storage facility and carried its fleet of three whaling vessels hundreds of metres inland, where they remain.

The disaster came shortly after Japan recalled its Antarctic whaling fleet a month early, citing the threat posed by the environmentalist group Sea Shepherd.

A fisheries officials says two whaling vessels have left Kushiro on the east coast of the northern island of Hokkaido and are expected to catch up to 60 minke whales until June.