Japanese whalers have admitted almost all of the mature minke whales they killed in Antarctic waters last season were pregnant.
But they say that supports their argument that the population is strong enough to allow a return to commercial whaling.
Japan's whaling research body, the Institute of Cetacean Research, said yesterday 91.6 per cent - or 262 - of the 286 mature female minkes taken during the last hunt were pregnant.
"It shows that the Antarctic minke population is increasing rapidly," the ICR's Glenn Inwood said. "The consistent population must provide strong reassurance that the population will easily sustain a commercial quota."
Mr Inwood said the Humane Society International last week did not mention that almost all mature female minkes were pregnant at the time the annual hunt goes ahead, typically from December until March.
HSI said yesterday more than half of the minke whales captured by Japan in Antarctic waters last season were pregnant. It was using figures from a review of Japanese reports from the most recent hunt, ahead of the resumption of a Federal Court case against Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha.
Mr Inwood said that, though HSI's assessment was not wrong, it failed to provide an accurate context. The group was being unnecessarily emotive.
"Those figures from the Humane Society are extremely manipulative. They basically demonstrate the organisation's ignorance and lack of understanding.
" I think what they are doing is using an ignorant media ... to manipulate the public of Australia and New Zealand."