Japan’s whale meat stocks have reached a 15-year nadir, and signs indicate the island nation’s appetite for meat from earth’s largest mammal are decreasing as well. According to the Fisheries Agency, Japan’s inventories held 1,157 tons at the end of May, the lowest level since March 2000. Following a March 2014 ruling by the International Court of Justice that banned Japan from capturing whales in the Antarctic Ocean for “scientific research” purposes, the country’s primary ocean for whaling has been off-limits. Eighty-eight percent of respondents in a 2012 poll by The International Fund for Animal Welfare reported they had not bought whale meat in the past year, but it’s not only because whale meat is becoming less available: fewer Japanese people support whaling. Only 2.6 percent of pollsters between 15 and 19 supported killing whales for meat, and up to 75 percent of whale meat at auctions goes unsold. Similarly, on the other side of the Pacific, SeaWorld attendance and profits continue to decline, showing promising signs that people are electing to keep our mammalian brethren in the oceans, not on our plates or in tanks.
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