Author joins Australia’s last whalers for 30-year anniversary

Chris Pash, author of The Last Whale, will return to the English-speaking world’s last whaling station this month for a reunion of ex-whalers to mark the 30-year anniversary of the end of whaling in Australia.

Australia harpooned its last whale, a female sperm whale, in the Southern Ocean off Albany, Western Australia, on November 20, 1978.

“The three-ship fleet went out for another day but no whales were sighted and the whaling station stopped operations on November 21, 1978,” said Pash.

Pash worked as a reporter at the Albany Advertiser during the 1970s anti-whaling protests and subsequent closure of the whaling station. He returned to Albany in September with Greenpeace CEO Steve Shallhorn to launch The Last Whale.

The Last Whale follows the lives of the last whalers and a group of activists who took to open boats to stop them. For a few weeks in 1977, the town of Albany became the global environmental front-line. Written from both sides of the conflict, the book captures the drama at sea, the lives of the whalers, the risks taken by both sides and the tactics and thoughts of the anti-whaling activists.

“The protesters turned the isolated town of Albany on its head,” said Pash.

“The 1970s finally arrived and the community had to confront the dangerous idea that whaling may not have been a good thing.”

The Albany campaign was Greenpeace’s first direct action in Australia. Canadian Bob Hunter, Greenpeace founder and its first president, was brought to Australia to apply his expertise honed in the North Pacific against the Soviet whaling fleet.

The 30th anniversary will take place on November 21, 2008, at the whaling station, now the museum Whale World, at Albany. Chris Pash will appear at Albany’s Singing Tree book shop on November 20, at the Margaret River Bookstore November 24 and Angus & Robertson Morley November 25.

Chris Pash is available for interview.

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