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Antarctic Whaling: Is This the End?

The Fisheries Agency of Japan announced this morning that the country's Antarctic whaling fleet is returning home, a couple of months and several hundred whales earlier than usual. Although the FAJ is blaming the attentions of Sea Shepherd - which is of course more than happy to accept the blame and the plaudits - there is much more going on, as I explain in this blog for Discovery News.
The whaling industry is bankrupt, corrupt, and disgraced, and there are fewer and fewer people who want to eat whale meat, stockpiles of which are growing to record levels. It's an unsustainable business, and it's possible that the fleet will not return to the Antarctic again.

However, although there is a sense of excitement among environmentalists that this could be the beginning of the end for Antarctic whaling - or even the end, period - there are always many layers of uncertainty where Japan's whaling policy is concerned. The decision by the FAJ to use Sea Shepherd as the sole explanation for their early departure is a little baffling, for one thing, and could conceivably lead to a backlash wherein nationalistic elements insist that the whaling continues so as to save face. We shall see.

For many years, of course, combating Japan's Antarctic whaling was my professional raison d'etre. I went to the Antarctic four times to confront the fleet, as documented in my book The Whaling Season. I don't mind admitting it feels quite strange to watch these developments unfold from the position of semi-detachment from the issue in which I now find myself.
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