Whaling operation in trouble
Peter Alford; 20/11/09
The Japanese whaling fleet departed for its annual Antarctic whale hunt yesterday, leaving senior officials to face mounting critical scrutiny of their taxpayer-propped operation. The fleet left from Innoshima yesterday morning rather than its Shimonoseki home port, 250km west, apparently to avoid the risk of anti-whaling protests. The fleet is bound for three months of whale-chasing in western Antarctic waters. But the program operated by the Institute of Cetacean Research for the government’s Japan Fisheries Agency is in trouble at home. Struggling with a chronic lack of demand for its product – in September, 5045 tonnes of whale meat was stockpiled, nearly twice the haul from last summer’s Antarctic catch – the program this year requires a Y795 million ($9.6m) direct government subsidy to stay afloat.