Japan fails to sell 75 per cent of 2011 whale-meat harvest

Image of whale

Japan has failed to sell three-quarters of its 2011 whale-meat harvest, a loss of appetite for cetacean blubber that may spell the end of the hunt in the world’s largest whaling nation.

A signatory to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), Japan has continued to hunt whales – despite zero quotas being set – through the use of a loophole stipulating that whales may be taken for “scientific research”.

But according to a report published by the Dolphin and Whale Action Network, the government body responsible for whaling, which had been intending to fund the whaling fleet through sales of whale meat, will now have to consider its options.

Whaling has been hit hard over recent years by trenchant opposition from environmental groups and the general public, convinced by footage of whales being slaughtered that the practice is cruel and barbaric.

As populations age and demand decreases, the hope is that the practice will also decline in whaling countries including Canada, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Norway.

Some meat industry bloggers have suggested that large-scale livestock production may go the same way as whaling in years to come, as the public becomes convinced by the environmental argument – put over by campaigns such as Meat Free Monday – to eat less meat.

But while meat-free eating is on the rise in industrialised nations, the opposite is true elsewhere in the world. In rapidly industrialising countries, for example, livestock production is struggling to keep pace with the demand for meat, which is seen as a marker of wealth by a burgeoning middle class.

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