Richard Black | 12:36 UK time, Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Is this the beginning of the end for Japanese whaling in the Antarctic?
That is the biggest question arising from Wednesday’s announcement in Tokyo that this season’s whaling programme was being suspended.
The Fisheries Agency (FAJ) hasn’t formally declared the season over, but it appears likely that the fleet will soon be on its way out of the Southern Ocean and back to harbour.
FAJ official Tatsuya Nakaoku blamed the suspension on harrassment by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which has made life progressively more difficult for the whaling fleet each year by sending faster and better-equipped boats.
This season, it has regularly managed to park across the back of the Nisshin Maru factory ship, making it impossible to winch whales on board.
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