ABC: Anti-whaling activists have declared the abrupt end of Japan's whaling hunt this season as a victory.
Japan's fisheries agency says the country's whaling fleet was heading home after catching less than a third of its quota in the Antarctic.
Speaking from Tokyo, the fisheries agency revealed the fleet finished its hunt three days ago.
Sea Shepherd activist Paul Watson has told ABC News24 this morning that the whaling fleet's premature pullout is a victory and it is high time the Japanese whalers learnt their lesson.
"They decided to pack it in and head home," Mr Watson said.
"Is it a victory? Yes. We kept them running almost for the whole three months.
"It's not as good as last year when they only took 17 per cent [of their whaling quota], but we lost a vessel early."
The Japanese fisheries agency also confirmed the fleet caught 266 minke whales - less than 30 per cent of its quota.
The whalers also harpooned a single fin whale, despite having a quota of 50.
Despite receiving a special budget boost of $30 million to fend off the Sea Shepherd conservation group, the Japanese whalers were repeatedly obstructed by the activists.
Mr Watson also says that $30 million was taken from tsunami relief efforts and put into whaling efforts.
"It's caused a lot of outrage in Japan," he said.
"They also took us to court in the US with some of that money.
"We will return next year with four vessels and I'm sure we'll do a lot better. We will be there to protect the sanctuary."
The Federal Government says it welcomes Japan's decision to recall its whaling fleet from the Southern Ocean.
The Government says it remains opposed to commercial whaling, including Japan's so called "scientific" whaling program.
It says Australia will continue its efforts to achieve a permanent end to whaling through the International Court of Justice.
- ABC News
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