South Korea said this week it may "reconsider" its plan to start hunting whales again.
That's good news, though it's not a battle won and those who wish to preserve these magnificent animals will need to keep up the pressure.
I've long been fond of whales. Each spring thousands of them head south down the east coast of Australia. Last year my wife Ann and I were lucky enough to spend a holiday following them in a campervan.
These enormous and highly intelligent creatures had spent the winter giving birth to their calves in the tropical waters off northern Australia. They were now heading for the rich krill-feeding ground that is the Antarctic in summer.
On the way south we spotted many playful family groups from beaches and headlands along the coast.
Most were humpbacks, some up to 50 feet long and weighing 35 tons - that's heavier than three double-decker buses.
Even larger were the southern right whales, cynically named by the early whalers because it was the "right" whale to catch - they often floated when killed.
Most spectacular but less common on the route were the 60-foot sperm whales, the biggest predators on the planet.
We've been lucky enough to see whales all over the world - New England and New Zealand, California, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
Nearer home we actually reckon you can't beat Shetland and Britain's other northern isles to see whales and other cetacean species.
On one occasion we had just loaded our campervan on the Sunday lunchtime ferry between Shetland's mainland and the island of Yell. Five minutes out the captain made a curious announcement.
"Can I ask if anyone is in a hurry?" his voice crackled over the speaker, "because I've just seen a pod of orcas and if nobody is in a rush I think we should take a closer look."
Much later we docked on Yell. It is normally only a 20-minute trip but we had spent over an hour with six amazing killer whales.
That's why I was really angry earlier this month when South Korea announced it was to resume hunting whales under regulations permitting scientific research.
South Korea is using the same dubious excuse as Japan.
Once a small so-called scientific sample of the whale has been taken the remaining tons of expensive meat and blubber are on their way to posh sushi restaurants.
South Korea will join the small but distasteful club of nations who ignore world opinion and the global moratorium on the bloody slaughter which reached its peak in 1962 with 66,000 kills. The biggest remaining whaling fleets are from Norway, Iceland and Japan.
Seoul announced its plans at the 64th annual International Whaling Commission (IWC) held in Panama.
The commission is increasingly being accused of being toothless by more militant campaigners for sea mammals.
The 89-member IWC is only concerned with larger species of whale. And future commission meetings will only be held every two years.
In Panama Japan scuppered widely supported international plans for a whale sanctuary in the south Atlantic and an attempt to get the United Nations to debate the hunting of all cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises and so on).
Japan pays the IWC subscriptions for small whaling states - which include the IWC's new chairwoman Jeannine Compton-Antoine's St Lucia - to get the 25 per cent vote it needs for these vetoes.
Some smaller nations say whaling is a cultural tradition. The Faroese drive huge pods of pilot whales ashore in shallow bays and then kill them with knives in a bloody slaughter they call grindadrap.
Denmark lost the IWC vote to let Inuit peoples in Greenland kill more whales. Delegates decided this tradition was actually a disguised commercial whale-meat industry. Greenland may yet defy the vote.
And the commission agreed that in Caribbean Bequia, another of Japan's paid allies, four humpback whales can be hand-harpooned each year.
Other yearly aboriginal subsistence quotas include 120 gray whales in Chukotka in north-east Russia. Alaska's Inupiat people are allowed to take 56 bowhead whales annually. Bowheads are the longest-lived of all mammals, with one found alive last year that had been harpooned in the 1890s.
Today catching whales "accidentally" in fishing nets is already common in South Korea. Whale meat is easily found in markets and restaurants.
South Korea was one of the first countries to use the scientific whaling excuse after the 1986 IWC global whaling moratorium.
International pressure and protest stopped them then. It can again.
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