According to Nikkei press Japans Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Michihiko Kano confirmed in a press conference that the whaling fleet has been called back from the Antarctic, with one month still remaining in the season. The government stated that the fleet (which was smaller than in the past and also had started later than usual) will return to Japan as soon as early March.  The suspension is being blamed on the activities of the environmental activist group, Sea Shepherd.

According to reports, 172 whales have been killed in the 2010/2011 Antarctic season, far short of its quota, and far fewer than the 507 whales (506 minkes and 1 fin) killed last season.  Given that the whaling industry is reliant on sales of whale meat to help fund its activities, these low numbers could have a major impact on the future of Antarctic whaling, unless the government is willing to increase the already extremely high subsidies it has given to the fleet, both for operational costs and to cover increased security costs. Political observers state, however, that this is unlikely to happen given proposed government budget cuts.

While we welcome the news that hundreds of Antarctic whales will be saved by the suspension this year, the future of Japans Antarctic whaling remains unclear. WDCS remains concerned for Northern Hemisphere whales that are still being targeted  by the Japanese, Norwegian and Icelandic whaling fleets.  In 2010,  948 whales, including endangered species such as fin and sei were killed in northern waters, 272 in the North Pacific and 676 in the North Atlantic.

Find out more on how you can help Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society shut down whaling in the northern hemisphere.

Article from  February 2011