A Crisis that Never Came: the Decline of the Antarctic Whaling Industry in the 1950s and 1960s

By Bjørn L. Basberg, published May 2013


The twentieth-century Antarctic whaling industry had from the beginning been led by Norwegian companies and companies from a few other nations with strong Norwegian ties, especially Britain. This article analyses the decline and final closure of this part of the industry in the 1950s and 1960s. The nations that had dominated the industry were then challenged by Japan and the Soviet Union, who completely took over Antarctic whaling over the succeeding decades. This article has a special focus on the Norwegian industry and how the challenges were faced there, but also analyses the development in other countries that experienced a decline. The analysis reveals that the decline did not develop into a crisis for the companies or in the wider economies. One main explanation was that business cycles in shipping and in the general economy were very favourable during the years when the whaling industry was wound up.

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Filed under: Post WW2 | Antarctic
Subjects include: Whaling & Fishing

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