Anti-whaling Activists Make Victorious Return to Australia

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Members of the anti-whaling ship the Sea Shepherd, return to Australia after Japan calls off its annual whale hunt. The group says its campaign to save whales was a great success.

Members of the environmentalist group Sea Shepherd returned to their home port in Australia on Sunday, after Japan called off its annual whale hunt following clashes with the group in the Southern Ocean.

Sea Shepherd's captain says their mission to save whales was a success.

[Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Founder & Captain]:
"This is really a victory , I think, for all of Australia. It's made it very clear to the world community that this country is passionate about defending whales."

Last month Japan said it was recalling its whaling fleet, cutting short its annual mission to catch whales for scientific research purposes.

Critics say the hunting is an effort to evade a moratorium on commercial whaling.

Japan says its whaling fleet has been harassed by the environmentalists, who flashed laser beams to temporarily blind crewmembers.

They say the group also threw ropes into the water in order to tangle their ships' propellers.

[Unidentified Sea Shepherd Crew Member]:
"We are extremely pleased with the result, I mean we shut them down completely this year, it's been the crown on a seven year campaign."

Japan's Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry says the decision to recall the fleet was a safety measure.

The two ships were searched by police after they arrived to a cheering crowd in Tasmania.

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