Sales of Whale Meat Facing Steep Decline in Japan

Due in part to anti-whaling groups’ efforts, consumer demand for cetacean meat has plunged in Japan.


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According to a new report from the Dolphin and Whale Action Network, Japan’s whale-meat industry is struggling to stay afloat as demand for the product wanes. Though commercial whaling has been prohibited since 1986, the country allows the mammals to be hunted for scientific purposes, after which byproducts collected during the research process can be auctioned off for consumption. This year’s auction failed to attract consumer interest, with three-quarters of whale meat products remaining unsold—a fact the Institute of Cetacean Research partially blames on intensified criticism from anti-whaling groups such as Sea Shepherd. Earlier this year, conservationist groups declared a victory after Sea Shepherd interrupted a Japanese research expedition in Antarctica, forcing the vessel to return home with just 30 percent of its intended catch.