TOKYO:- Japanese whaling vessels left port Thursday for an annual hunting voyage in the Antarctic , this time to kill 333 minke whales, despite international calls to stop the practice. The fisheries agency said a group of five ships, headed by the 8,145-tonne mother ship Nisshin Maru, will conduct the hunt until March to study whale behaviour and biology. The voyage has been carried out since 2015 “to devise more precise calculation methods for a sustainable catch limit for Antarctic minke whales as well as to study the ecosystem of the Antarctic waters”, the ministry said in a statement.–AFP