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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Sustainable Use: Why do we support whaling?

I was very happy to receive a comment on one of my live blogging threads, and I'm going to reproduce it up here at the top level. See the end of this item.

But it started making me think about something. Something that is kind of obvious, but I'd never quite realised it.

Is whaling really about culture?

This traditionally seems to be true, but there are many exceptions.

I am a New Zealander. I have been in Japan for almost 4 years now, but my culture is still very much that of New Zealand. Yet I fully support the rights of whaling peoples, inspite of my background.

Y/H-san who regularly posts here, is of Japanese culture. He passionately supports whaling, as we can tell by his strong words on the issue. Yet, on Japanese language discussion boards, some other Japanese people speak out against whaling.

isanatori-san is French. Another anti-whaling nation. Yet he too supports whaling.

The comment below is from a British person, but one who also supports whaling.

And some Maori people support whaling, whereas other Maori people seem not to.

I could go on.

So we see that in various different cultures, most people of that culture feel one way or the other, but there are always exceptions. Thus while at first glance (and even second glance) it seems that whaling is about culture, it clearly isn't. The cultural model simply does not fit, because cultures are mutually exclusive, yet mutually exclusive views depending on culture is not what we observe in real life.

So how do we define this? Why do we support whaling, and why do people who don't, oppose?

Let's look to some recent voting patterns at the IWC for answers. Why is it that Japan failed to achieve a simple majority on the various proposals it put to the IWC, despite the later adoption of the St Kitts and Nevis resolution?
Now, looking at the St Kitts and Nevis Declaration, we can make the observation that one underlying concept appears throughout no less than six times - the concept of sustainability.

* * *

I suggest that whether a person supports whaling or not depends not on their culture, but on the degree to which that person supports the the notion of Sustainable Use.

A principled person is one who makes decisions "based on or manifesting objectively defined standards of rightness or morality".

On the other hand, an unprincipled person is one who is "oblivious to or contemptuous of what is right or honorable".

Unprincipled people may decide that an activity may be acceptable for themselves, but from this we can not predict whether or not they would support another man's right to also partake in an activity. With principled people, however, we can.

We often see this with people standing up for the Principle of Free Speech. Such principled people will note: "I don't agree with what you say, but by god, I will defend your right to say it".

With regard to whaling, we support it even though it does not effect most of us, because we are principled - we believe in the Principle of Sustainable Use. And we support the Principle of Sustainable Use above all other considerations.

* * *

The reason why the St Kitts and Nevis Declaration was able to galvinize support from a majority of nations was because it was a statement that, more than anything, affirmed the Principle of Sustainable Use. Sustainable Use was the focus, and this is something that a majority of IWC members now agree with so strongly that even nations who vote against whaling in various circumstances could join together as one.

So what of people who do not support whaling?

It is not possible to generalize. They really are an alphabet soup of various types. Oman supports coastal whaling peoples, whereas Denmark and the USA, both nations with coastal whaling peoples, voted against Japan's proposal because of the well-known commercial element of Japan's traditional whaling.

Stepping down to the level of individual people, some oppose whaling simply because they are selfish. Such people are simply unprincipled. There is little that we can say to them, other than to point out their selfishness, and to heap shame upon them. Thankfully, I believe that such stubbornly selfish people are the minority.

People such as Ann Novek oppose whaling based on a principle that says animals should not suffer. It will probably never be possible to guarantee an instantaneous death for all whales, so Ann will probably never accept whaling. We can all understand and respect Ann's position, although our priorities are different to hers. This is not to say that we are insenstive to the pain suffered by animals, only to say that we are not as sensitive to this issue as Ann.

Other people simply have no faith in the Principle of Sustainable Use. Greenpeace is just such an organization. They state that they do not believe that sustainable commercial whaling is possible. They are essentially a left wing anti-globalization body. The fact that commercial whaling would be regulated means that we are largely insensitive to such arguments.

Some groups believe in animal rights so strongly that they will not stop at any means to uphold this principle. Sea Shepherd for example, openly suggests that small developing nations should be bribed by the anti-whaling camp, resorts to terrorism, and makes incredibly offensive statements regarding people and nations that disagree with them. Good manners and standard human morality go out the door to make way for the notion that whales have an incredibly high level of rights.

Regarding such groups, we can not say anything that will change their beliefs, because fundamentally they follow different principles to us, or have different sensitivities to these different principles.

Fortunately, I believe that a majority of people are receptive to the Principle of Sustainable Use.

I believe that the reason that most people who do not support whaling feel that way is because they have been misinformed. It is not so much that they disagree with whaling - they just diagree with it right now, today. Years of commenting on various Internet discussion boards and forums has shown me this. After much practice, I feel that my arguments are well versed, supported by facts, and indeed, people have been kind enough to acknowledge this to me. And I see more and more people displaying a tolerance of whaling these days than ever before.

This is undoubtedly the power of the Principle of Sustainable Use at work. Appealing to this Princple is how the whaling peoples of the world can win the support of 75% IWC members, to gain a resumption of commercial whaling.

The argument that whaling can be sustainable has already been won. The next step is just to inform enough people receptive to the Principle of Sustainable Use of this fact.

Here's that comment I was talking about at the start. Ian talks about culture at the start - but if you look carefully, we can see that the reason he actually supports whaling is because he too supports the Principle of Sustainable Use:

I just found your blog linked from the Wikipedia page on the IWC. I was trying to find some information about the IWC vote on sustainable whaling, mentioned in tonights BBC news.

Many thanks for all the information! Just to let you know, not all British people have irrational and emotiionally-based attitudes to whaling. I've thought for some time that its irrational cultural prejudice to say that one can hunt and eat some animals, but not others (except where there is a genuine danger of extinction). Also a very little research into the history of the IWC showed the hypocrisy of allowing "indigenous" whaling, but being outraged when countries like Norway or Japan, which have hunted whales since at least the medieval period, wish to coninue their cultural tradition of using whale meat!

I hope soon to see that well-regulated, sensible hunting of whale species with adequate populations to sustain such hunting is entirely legal, under the auspices of an IWC once again fulfilling its original (and designed) function of overseeing and regulating sustainable whaling to ensure healthy whale stocks and prevent over-fishing. Until then...

Keep up the good work!

Ian B, UK
Cheers Ian!



Thank you for your nice comments
of the sustainable use of marine resources.I was deeply moved !

For my part,as a middle-aged Japanese,whaling is one of our cultures which we should be preserved for ourselves.I believe it has to be done not by other people but for ourselves.

As some people say,especially to the young generations,whaling might mean nothing.

However, such Japanese are losing something they have to remember:
our country is basically very poor -i,e the sustainable use of any resources is a must.Whaling is nothing but one of them.

They may think the U.S.A,U.K, AU,China and other countries will help us if we need help.
They might also think Japan as NO.1
because the GNP is great.

No! That is an illusion.

For the next generations of Japan,
what we should do is to let them know the sustainable use of any resoruces.This is the only way for us to survive.

That's very interesting to read, Y/H-san.

Indeed, many young Japanese people today do not know what it is like to live in a poor country.

This seems to be the same problem with people in developed western nations.

I think Joanne Massiah (or another Caribbean leader) was saying recently that while Australia and co. can afford the luxury of being sentimental about certain animals, the people in her country can not.

That's a very humbling thought, and one which we should keep in mind.
I can respect issues of culture, but in cases where there is no need for the act any longer and it causes harm to another being, I think the cultural value may be lost. I think of the Jewish practice of circumcising. I am against circumcision and for a long while thought I should not hold those accountable to my values for not harming one another to those that are Jewish because of their history of being oppressed. Not being Jewish, I would not want to be seen as trying to make Jews assimilate and lose their culture. But after some consideration and speaking to Jews who are speaking out against circumcision themselves, I have decided to hold out to all people that circumcision is wrong. I do think whaling make sense for some people who live in Arctic and Antarctic regions. But otherwise, I think it is not a practice that should be condoned.


I understand you put it as an example of culture.As you point out, it might not be necessary.
In the sense,I think you are right!

Because we see another same example in Japan ;Japanese tatoo(Irezumi)

For some people,it might be necessary but for large number of Japanese,absolutely not.If the practice is abondoned,it does not matter in our daily life at all.

On the other hand,whaling is another kind of culture on the basis of the use of resources,which enables us to enforce our economy power and make many people happier.

Sorry,I am a little confused to see for you to mingle the two cultures together.(Though I am afraid I might not understand you well..)

Y/H (Japan)
Hi Y/H-san,

There is not direct correlation between my example of circumcision and whaling except that (1) they are both part of cultural practices, and (2) they both involve physical harm to a sentient being (one resulting in the death of a marine mammal and one resulting in the infliction of pain onto a 8-day-old infant boy that does not understand why those who love him the most are gathered around to do and witness this painful act). So, apples and pears. But I see a connection. And I am not sure about all the economic impacts of whaling on Japan, but I know there are many instances when cultures had to change and economies had to adjest when resources became scarce. How did Japan adjust when whaling caused the populations to almost go extinct? When whale oil was no longer a viable commodity, we found petroleum. Now that petroleum is looking like it may not be a good choice for the environment and not a long term solution to our needs, humans have begun to search for other options. I think there are other options for Japanese instead of whaling. Just as I think there are probably other solutions for those in Western Africa who poach gorillas. I don't think that could become a sustainable practice either. In that case, if nothing is done now the gorillas will be gone in two years. I just have some fundamental feelings of deep despair about the impact human beings have had on our world for our comfort and betterment. We are beyond the need to survive, with 6.5 billion of us on this planet. Our population is too much, and our subsequent demands on nature cause an imbalance that will end up causing the collapse of other animals and ecosystems. Perhaps I am not informed enough and do not clearly understand the deep dependence on whale meat in Japan. I do not mean to offend you, Y/H-san and do hope we can make a bridge of understanding one another despite our cultural differences. Thank you.
There are similarities between these activities to that extent, but there are also important differences.

1) Whales are animals. People around the world do indeed inflict physical harm on a range of animals for food.

2) 8 day old boys are "animals" too biologically speaking, but additionally humans have the concept of Human Rights which is almost universally accepted around the world. I believe these are the grounds upon which people oppose such practices.

So, humans are "lucky", in that respect. There is however no concept of "whale rights", or "cow rights" that is generally accepted, although there is "animal rights" more generally, but even that does not have wide acceptance. I believe that there is no country in the world where there are not people who eat animals of some sort.

Because of this, whaling peoples see criticism of their particular choice of animal killing to be hypocritical.

People who prefer land-based farming over hunting say that it enables "humane killing" because they can control those animals. This is certainly true - with whaling there is a higher chance of a non-instantaneous death, but is our killing of the animal the only aspect of that animals life that we should concern ourselves with when thinking about whether our use of these animals is humane or not?

One of the reasons that some people only eat free range chicken products is because they care about the life that the chickens live.

Similarly, whaling peoples argue that the whales that are killed for human consumption live far better lives than animals bred solely for the purpose of human consumption. Whales are "free range", in that sense.

Furthermore, when considering Human Rights, one aspect of the right to food is that that food be adequate. The right to food is not just the right not to starve, it also includes the right to food that is culturally acceptable, and environmentally and socially sustainable to produce.
Previously when whale stocks were mismanaged and hunting of the larger ones was banned one after the other, the whalers started to target different whale species.

In the end, Japan was hunting the minke, Sei, Bryde's and Sperm whales, all of which Japan believes are now robust. The minke whale in particular was never depleted so much in the first place, but hunting was banned anyway, when the moratorium was adopted.

Certainly there is an argument that whale meat is not needed, but the same argument can be levelled at beef eaters, as the vegans often do.

Ultimately the question is - who should decide whether and when a culture should evolve? People of that culture, or people outside of that culture?

I agree though that with 6.5 billion of us on the planet, likely to reach 9 billion in 2050, somethings do need to change to ensure that human existence can be sustainable. What I believe though, acknowledging that the world needs more food, not less, is that if it can be shown that certain whale stocks are robust enough for sustainable human harvest, and people are willing to eat whale meat, then we should not deny that of those people.

Earth is 70% ocean, and I think therefore it's human responsibility to ensure make wise use of those resources. Mistakes were made back in the middle of the last century with regard to whales, but I don't believe that those mistakes are reason for us to abandon this notion now. Looking to the future, I see it as a responsibility to actually continue with this. The fact that there are substitutes for whale meat should ensure that the demand for whales is never as high as when the industrial nations were also hunting for oil.
>I think there are other options >for Japanese instead of whaling


Thank you for your comments.Glad to see you chose many kind words for me as a pro-whailing Japanese citizen.Though I am afraid I do not understand your situations well,Let's bridge the gap together.

In our daily lfe, we do not use whale-oil no longer. We have electric or gas lamp and. even sperm whale oil,used in the spaceship divice of NASA ,has already been changed with some machine oil.It might be a nice news for whales not to be killed
more than we need.

However, The Japanese need whales -sincerely understand this.

It is an clear fact we enjoy eating whale meat ,because full
well do we know how delicious whale meat is.Most of the Japanese might not eat whales because of the commercial whaling
moratorium.It was our proper daily food before the moratorium.

Even if we have beef, pork,chiken
or meat like those,this does not mean we need not whale meat.Such people as Greenpeace Japan persistently insist whales are
luxurious food of high-quality restaurants,not our daily food - this is a serious mistake .

If whale meat is luxurious ,for examle, at least,lamb or duck meat
are also the luxurious items of the restaurants.

In short, I suppose this is of the issue as to the food culture.In Japan, the use of whales,
especially of food, have been
developing for more than 1000 years-it is one of our cultures we are proud of.It should not be
interfered by other countries.

Then,you might ask us if or not whales are only for the Japanese.
You might blame us that only Japan are catching whales. All the world should be responsible for the management...

Yes ! I think that is why the IWC exists.

As I often insist in David-san's Blog , the IWC is not the commission which demands some
countries to stop whaling.In order to prove that whales are not only for Japanese property,Japan,with modern technology and much investment, has been researching whales and getting much scientific
data for more than 20 years.As you know it is highly estimated and
admired at the SC of IWC.

I sincerely ask you to hear the voices of the Japanese and find
the truth of whalings for yourself.

Y/H (Japan)
i just want to point out that as a New Zealander, it was whalers who first visited out country, and whaling that was the first industry here. we have a cultural history of large-scale whaling business. However, just because that is part of our history, does not mean we wish to continue with this practice. NZ makes BILLIONS of dollars a year from its ecotourism industry, far more than it would make from whaling, which would be depleted rapidly. If everyone wished to continue the practices of their past, we'd still be throwing our sewage out of our windows and into the street. I am boycotting all Japanese products, and encouraging others to do the same. No country has a right to exercise powers over what belongs to the rest of the world as a sanctuary.
I am a New Zealander, also.

New Zealand stopped whaling years ago, and is quite entitled to have done so. That does not however give New Zealanders the right to tell people of other cultures what they must and must not do.

I must note that some Maori New Zealanders are in fact unhappy about New Zealand's policy change:

New Zealanders make decisions about their own actions and culture, and other nations, such as Iceland, Japan and Norway make actions about theirs.

India does not tell New Zealand that it must cease cow farming activities because it is immoral. Japan does not tell New Zealand that it must cease lamb slaughter because lambs are cute.

New Zealand needs to grow up, regarding this issue.

Our prime concern should be that whaling, if it occurs at all, is sustainable. Under IWC rules, and if properly regulated, commercial whaling is certain to be sustainable.

Within sustainable limits, whaling will not deplete whale stocks over the long term.

This concept is the same as for fisheries in New Zealand, which are managed under the Quota Management System.

Likewise for whales, the IWC has a Revised Management Procedure for managing the whale stock fishery.

> NZ makes BILLIONS of dollars a year from its ecotourism industry

This is quite incorrect. At best the industry makes around 120 million a year.
You should also be aware that some cetacean based tourism activities are threatening species with extinction:

You are more than welcome to boycott Japanese products, but you should be aware that some Japanese people are talking of boycotting New Zealand kiwifruit and lamb meat because of the actions of our government.

And besides, lambs are very cute, and do not deserved to be killed for food. They are just innocent little lambs.

> No country has a right to exercise powers over what belongs to the rest of the world as a sanctuary.

In fact, Japan is a signatory to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). Japan's whaling activities in the Antarctic are fully in accordance with the provisions of this international treaty.

Furthermore, when it was adopted in 1994, Japan lodged an official objection (in accordance with the ICRW) to the Southern Ocean Sanctuary with regards to the minke whale, which means that Japan is not bound to observe the sanctuary when commercial whaling resumes.

On top of that, New Zealand is a signatory to the ICRW as well. That is, not only are Japan's actions perfectly legal, New Zealand's signature on the ICRW adds to the legitimacy of Japan's actions.

Please consider why it is that you are opposed to whaling.

Do you agree that New Zealanders should be able to utilize natural resources on a sustainable basis for food? If so, to be consistent you should also agree that people in other parts of the world should be able to utilize whales for food, in accordance with their perception of marine resources, including whales, as food.
Ecotourism is the whole package, the image, the wish to come to a country that values and makes the most of its environment where possible, and not just the whale watching industry...

Also, your point about Maori and whaling is a little under researched. I doubt Ngai Tahu (owners of WhaleWatch Kaikoura and one of the top five tourism earners in NZ) would be so quick to diminish their ongoing resource.

I have no problem with eating lamb. its farmed, its contained, its numbers are carefully renewed and managed in a contained environment that belongs to the farmer.

i do however have a problem with the killing of any species (including orange roughy, dwindling hoki supply and marine mammals), that are taken from an environment, with nothing put back in, and no way to measure OTHER impacts on the species, which could cumulatively add to an irreversible population decline. Since none of the "science" by whale factory ships in Japan is peer-reviewed, i have difficulty accepting their views on "sustainable management". Let the internationally recognised precautionary principle apply. I have plenty of networks and friends in Japan AND Japanese people in NZ who inform me that they do not like the taste of whale meat, they are not proud of the imperialistic stance their country is taking, and they do not wish to be associated with it.
>India does not tell New Zealand that it must cease cow farming activities because it is immoral.

Furthermore, the difference with your statement above is that i would not travel to India, or start slaughtering their cattle because it was my cultural right to do so, as a descendant of a long farming history. I would respect their culture on their turangawaewae. Perhaps that is something Japan needs to think about. It won't be long (China and Korea voting against Japan at IWC should be a good heads up), until this debate becomes less about the whales, and more about sovereignty, and the need to put a stop to arrogant countries deciding they will disregard international law (and i'm NOT going to enter into the scientific debate. the whole world knows its a total farce and that conversation doesn't need to be repeated right now). When it becomes a discussion about sovereignty, Japan may well find it has bought a fight it cannot win.
Blanket protection of resources is not a prerequisite for ecotourism.

Indeed, I can't think of a single "ecotourism" destination where some form of natural resources are not harvested for food.

Can you name any?

As such I don't see anything incompatible with ecotourism and whaling - and indeed there are whale watching industries in all of the world's leading whaling nations.

> I doubt Ngai Tahu would be so quick to diminish their ongoing resource.

Today's whalers are not asking to diminish or deplete resources. They are asking to harvest nature's surplus.

Many whale stocks today are growing.

The humpback stocks around Australia for example have been growing at rates of 10% per year for two decades now. Australian scientists recognise this fact as well:
South African scientists recently released analyses showing that these stocks are likely to recover to pristine condition within the next 10-20 years.

What the whalers wish to do is receive scientific advice on the status of these whale stocks from the IWC's Scientific Committee, and then take a small number of these whales for food. The IWC's management procedure is one of the most rigorously tested natural resource management methods ever produced. THe IWC's Greg Donovan provides some useful information about this here:

> I have no problem with eating lamb. its farmed, its contained, its numbers are carefully renewed and managed in a contained environment that belongs to the farmer.

Whale numbers are increasing naturally without human intervention, as whales breed naturally. The animals live free lives, unlike the chickens, cows and sheep of New Zealand, which are bred for the sole purpose of being slaughtered for food. Providing that ample scientific knowledge about these whale stocks is available, there is no scientific reason why sustainable hunts are not possible.

> none of the "science" by whale factory ships in Japan is peer-reviewed

This is quite incorrect. For example, the IWC's own homepage mentions that the IWC Scientific Committee reviewed the JARPA research programme in 1997 and agreed that the data produced had the potential to improve the Revised Management Procedure in a number of ways. You can read this for yourself:

Furthermore, Japan is now undertaking research that will lay the foundations for ecosystem based management approaches, which have been the topic of much discussion in recent years at the FAO, and which you of course alluded to in your comment.

Of course, for people who do not wish to see whales killed under any circumstances, it is easy to dismiss Japan's research, as it has the goals of contributing to the proper conservation of whale stocks and development of whaling industry (the same goals as the ICRW in fact).

Whether you choose to trust Japan's research or not is largely irrelevant - commercial whaling would be managed using the IWC'S RMP, which is guaranteed to produce sustainable catch limits.

> Let the internationally recognised precautionary principle apply.

The precautionary principle is applied when something is not well understood; the Revised Management Procedure is evidence that the world's leading cetacean biologists do understand the issues well enough to produce conservative, safe catch limits.

> I have plenty of networks and friends in Japan AND Japanese people in NZ who inform me that they do not like the taste of whale meat

Some Japanese people are opposed to whaling, because they do not believe in the principle of sustainable use.

As for the Japanese people you know, if you know Japanese culture, you will recognise that Japanese people like to avoid confrontation, and when they see New Zealanders getting excited about whaling, they will tell you want they think you want to hear.
Can you read Japanese? If so I can provide you with some comments from Japanese people living in New Zealand and Australia, which was posted on a Japanese message board recently. I plan to translate these messages and post them to my blog soon, if you can't.

I do have one question I would like to ask you to aid us in progressing our discussion:

Are there any circumstances under which would you be tolerant of the desire of whaling peoples to catch whales?
> Perhaps that is something Japan needs to think about.

As I stated previously, the whaling nations and New Zealand are all signatory to the ICRW, which is an agreement amongst nations with interests in the world's whale resources to cooperate together to ensure that our combined use of those resources is sustainable.

Whaling nations are quite entitled to have an interest in the whales in Antarctic waters, just as is New Zealand.

New Zealand may not currently have an active interest in using those resources, but that is not sufficient justification to go back on one's word and deny the rights of active whaling nations under the ICRW agreement.

International agreements must be respected, even when they turn out not to be in one's favour. Law must be respected. New Zealand must be a grown-up international citizen and accept that we are not always on the "right" side of all disputes.

In this particular dispute, law is in favour of the whaling nations and science is in favour of the whaling nations.

New Zealand really just has to be adult about this and accept it.

> stop to arrogant countries deciding they will disregard international law

In fact, Sir Geoff Palmer has conceeded that Japan's actions are within the applicable law. Australia's Ian Campbell also conceeded this once again this week in his column:
"New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom have all looked at legal options and we have all independently come to the same conclusion – at the moment [legal action] is not likely to be successful. Indeed it could be counterproductive and may even backfire. "


> the whole world knows its a total farce

The IWC's Scientific Committee has made statements that directly contradict that assertion, as I noted in my previous comment.

> When it becomes a discussion about sovereignty, Japan may well find it has bought a fight it cannot win.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean about "sovereignty" here. The whaling nations are all acting within the law, as I noted above, refering to New Zealand and Australian representatives who have admitted this. Indeed, if we are talking about sovereignty, it would appear that that of the whaling nations is being impinged upon by New Zealand and others.

Thank you for your comments.

>I have plenty of networks and >friends in Japan AND Japanese >people in NZ who inform me that >they do not like the taste of >whale meat, they are not proud of >the imperialistic stance their >country is taking, and they do >not wish to be associated with >it.

Though they are the good friends to you and I do not know about the persons,you have to note such persons are among the minority.
I wonder how many persons are
saying ?Please count.

I am afraid to say,but they are
not the symbol of Japan.
Otherwise our government has already abandoned whaling.

Y/H (Japan)
>i just want to point out that as >a New Zealander,

Sorry, I doubt you are a New Zealander...
You write with English Grammer on
Japanese-English textbook.
And I find some differences of the
choice of words between yours and

I do not hope you are Genta
or Minky Tamao.

????????? :-)

But how do you answer to what has been reported in the media recently: that whales are being so heavily hunted in Japan that there is a surplus of whale meat and it is even being sold to dog food manufacturers?

Harpooning whales is a horrible, barbaric method and it can take several excrutiating minutes for a whale to die. I can never agree to such a horrific practice.

If Japan continues heavy hunting, this is what will happen:
Whales that were beginning to recover their numbers will be pushed back to the brink of extinction again. Then we'll have to sort it out again, or else this time the whales will not escape extinction. I refer especially to the endangered humpback whale.
I have written about the "stockpile" and "dog food" before, here:

Essentially, the anti-whaling NGOs report the size of the stockpile each year immediately after the by-products of each of Japan's two research programmes, JARPA II and JARPN II are put on sale.
At this point, the stockpile is at it's peak, and then it gradually decreases throughout the year, as it is consumed.

The most recent stockpile size after the JARPA II fleet returned was about 6,000 tonnes. Of that, 3,400 tonnes was by-product from the JARPA II programme, and of the remaining 2,600 tonnes, the majority of it would have been by-products from the JARPN II programme last year.

By this time next year, most of this meat will have been consumed, and the stockpile size will be at approximately the same level.

Japan has actually increased the numbers of whales it takes for research since the late 1990s, up from around 500 whales in 1999 to around 750 in 2004. Despite this, the stockpile is still only roughly equal to the size of the JARPA II and JARPN II programme by-products. That is, demand has been sufficient to consume the supply of whale meat by-products each year.

Also, to put this in context, the size of the whale meat stockpile was 22,000 tonnes in 1980, according to Traffic. That is, the stockpile today is approximately 4 times lower than it was 25 years ago. There is no glut in the market, and indeed whale meat prices remain high.

Regarding the story about pet food, in fact this has no relation at all to the research whaling programmes (see my link above for details). Only around 100 kgs of small intestines of a small whale species that is not managed by the IWC was turned into pet food. Humans don't eat the small intestines, so processing this into pet food should be seen for what it is - complete utilization of the whale, without any waste.

Anti-whaling NGOs are constantly looking for new excuses with which they can oppose whaling. Misleading stories about stockpiles and pet food are some of their latest ideas, but they do not stand up to honest scrutiny.

> Harpooning whales is a horrible, barbaric method

which in many cases leads to instantaneous death.

However, there is no point in focusing on the killing method only. The fact is that whales live free lives. Only a very small percentage are actually taken by humans.

Compare this with the lives of farmed animals. Would you rather be reborn as a pig, penned up for fattening, or would you rather be a whale with a greater than 99% chance of dying a natural death?

There is no comparison, really.

> I can never agree to such a horrific practice.

I wonder how you feel about slaughterhouse methods, and penning animals up for their entire existence?

People these days prefer free range chickens to battery chickens.

Likewise, people should prefer free range whales to other alternatives, to the extent that whaling operations are sustainable. Whaling can't replace agriculture, but it can help humans reduce our reliance on agriculture, which does a lot of damage to the environment.

> If Japan continues heavy hunting, this is what will happen:

Japan is not hunting heavily at all.

In fact, currently the numbers of whales that Japan is taking in the Antarctic is less than 20% of the numbers that were taken in the early 1980's.

You need to consider the size of these populations, and their rates of growth in determining whether or not the catches are sustainable or not.

> Whales that were beginning to recover their numbers will be pushed back to the brink of extinction again.

This is totally incorrect.

As I have mentioned, humpback whales for example are increasing at rates of 10% each year.

The IWC Scientific Committee has recently endorsed estimates of 40,100 humpback whales in the Antarctic. Growing at rates of 10% each year, this means that this year the number of humpbacks will increase by about 4,000 in the southern hemisphere.

Japan is planning to take only 50 humpback whales from next year.

So, it is clear that humpback numbers will continue to increase. The impact on these populations of small research hunts by Japan will be negligible.

Please reconsider your assertion that Japan's limited hunting will push numbers back to the brink of extinction, given that it is clear numbers will continue to increase despite limited hunting.
I'm a vegetarian and very against battery farming too so you can't label me a hypocrite.

I have no problem with people who are vegetarians opposing whaling. Although I don't agree that people should not eat animals, it's certainly a principled position to oppose whaling on such grounds.

However, vegetarians should take care to criticise other forms of animal consumption just as equally as they do whaling, especially at a site such as mine where whaling is the main issue we discuss.

Thanks for your comment!
Hi! Chantal Lyons-san.

>But how do you answer to what has >been reported in the media >recently

To the media,especially to the anti-whaling countries, Japanese whaling is actually the nice target for them to criticize.
Please do not be misled.

>That whales are being so heavily >hunted in Japan that there is a >surplus of whale meat.

As Davis-san says above,Japan is
hunting whales on the basis of much analysis (of scentific data).

As to the surplus of the whale meat,it is concerning to the ways for us to sell the meat,not to whaling itself.

>Harpooning whales is a horrible, >barbaric method and it can take >several excrutiating minutes for >a whale to die.

Yes! Japan is basically barbaric.
Our ancestors,with spears or harpoons in hands,hunted animals from small rabbit to whales.
This is the real Japapanese.

Please remember Greenpeace members tormented whales:it took more than
20 minites for a whale to die after the harpoon caught it. Without the harrasment,the time would have been much shorter.

>I can never agree to such a >horrific practice.

Bullfighting of Spain-I can never agree to such a horrific practice,
either.Moreover Bullfighting is the big show of killing animals!
All the world say it is the art.

OH. please define the word "Barbaric"

>their numbers will be pushed back >to the brink of extinction again.

Please do not worry about this.
The numbers of whales are enough.
The ICR analyzed and gave data to IWC.

Many thanks.

>Indeed, I can't think of a single "ecotourism" destination where some form of natural resources are not harvested for food.

David, there is a new national monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands that is fully protected, with no shared use allowed, as in sanctuaries. It is the largest patch of protected ocean on the planet. It is massive 1,400 nautical miles. Within five years, all commercial and recreational fishing will be prohibited. It may not be easy to visit, but the remote island of Midway will be open to tourists.

On another note, what about the evidence that whales are becoming more and more polluted, with toxins building in their blubber. Is it ethical to sell this tainted meat?

>Whale numbers are increasing naturally without human intervention, as whales breed naturally.

David, perhaps you meant whales breed despite human intervention? What about sonar testing? The navy and NATO forces are causing strandings with their mid-frequency and low-frequency sonar. Can't the Japanese work something out to study those whales for scientific research? Sure, these whales are unpredictable and are found around the world, but if a Japanese whaling fleet can make it to Antartica to kill some cetaceans, why not take a little scientific journey to the shores of Alaska and the East Coast of the US, Greece, Spain, and elsewhere when strandings occur.

Somewhere else you mentioned that people thinking whales are "special" skews perspectives. Well, I think it is the other way around. Not being able to see that whales and other animals and plants and so forth are special make humans desensitized. We start to lose our connection to nature, and it becomes easier and easier to not care. Go to a Chinese apothocary and see the shark fins lined up and piles of dried sea horses and other endangered creatures. Oh, those things are not special, it is the right of the Chinese people to harvest the sea as they have done for eons. It is their privilege to heal themselves. Or is it? I do not think so.

Is that the end of the conversation between pro-whaler and anti-whaler then? Is there no meeting of the minds? How is it possible to make some concession on either end or both ends? It can seem hopeless at times, but I think we can find a way to see eye to eye.
In the ST Kitts and Nevis Declaration you link to in the original blog entry, it says "ACCEPTING that scientific research has shown that whales consume huge quantities of fish making the issue a matter of food security for coastal nations and requiring that the issue of management of whale stocks must be considered in a broader context of ecosystem management since eco-system management has now become an international standard."

Arrgggggh! This is the kind of thing that gets under my skin. To me it basically says, "Let's cull them cetacean critters before they get in the way of our catches." Sea lions get shot over such competition. It really does boil down to there being too damn many of us. Maybe "ecosystem management" should include some reduction in the number of people. Who is down with population control, for Christ's sake? I am not advocating anything involuntary like forced sterilization, just that people wake up and realize this has got to stop! We are out of control! (I am a 36 year old woman with no children, by the way. If I choose to be a parent, I will most likely adopt.) Okay, I am ranting. I am tired. It is late. But I stand by what I say, even if it may sound extreme and irrational. :)
Hi! Alex-san,

> This is the kind of thing that gets under my skin. To me it basically says, "Let's cull them cetacean critters before they get in the way of our catches." <

Well,I think I have to choose the suitable words for you,but please be calm down,Alex-san.

I know the population control of animals is something the animal protection groups awfully avoid.
Although I do not know about your country, to Japan,which is surrounded by sea,it seems the control of the cetaceans is important to some extent.

As the ICR of Japan analyzed, It is a fact the cetacean eat the enormous volume of such fish as saury, sardine,herring and so on.As the area of fishing is limited,Japan has been trying to gain the stable volume of fish so far. As some people say for some seasons we get a big catch(of fish) and for other seasons, not.
this might be not directly related to the population of cetacean if we look at the aspect from the micro view.

However,the fact is the cetacean are eating many kinds of fish in the sea areas of Japan.
It is reasonable for Japan to catch the whales in order to make the volume stable.

The import of fish may be another way to solve this problem,but basically no country wants for whales to get fish more than we need.

Please note I do not want whales to become extinct.Probably David-san does not,either.

>Sure, these whales are unpredictable and are found around the world, but if a Japanese whaling fleet can make it to Antartica to kill some cetaceans, why not take a little scientific journey to the shores of Alaska and the East Coast of the US, Greece, Spain, and elsewhere when strandings occur.<

Basically I understand the IWC members are responsible for the research of their own domestic areas. Is it incorrect?
Personally this proposal is very interesting.We research and in return we get whale meat.
Is it acceptable?

Y/H (Japan)

Is that place you mention home to people? Or is it just a protected island? If it's just a big natural reserve, it's a bit different to what I'm talking about. In places such as Tonga, Dominica, and other such island nations, people are actually living on those islands where their ecostourism industries exist. Sure, they can make some money from tourism, but they also need to eat something. A lot of these small nations talk about the importance of their fisheries.

To me, whether you are killing fish or killing whales, there isn't much difference. You're using your resources either way.

I've seen information about toxic whale meat as well, but to be totally honest I am highly skeptical. One of the reasons for this is that scientists who have produced such studies have links with anti-whaling groups such as WDCS and IFAW.

It seems very suspicious to me that scientists who care about people's health would also have links to animal / whale rights groups.

On the other hand, Japan's research says that pollutants in the Antarctic whales is extremely low. Given that they feed on krill, and the fairly pristine state of the Antarctic, I am prepared to buy this.
The same source also says that pollutants in whale meat from the North Pacific is higher, and that it's important to eat in moderation.

For me, this is kind of like drinking red wine. A glass every now and then is believed to be good for your heart, but then drinking too much will destroy your liver.

A Canadian researcher named Milton Freeman has in the past written some papers about the health benefits of whale meat, versus the supposed risks due to toxins.

> David, perhaps you meant whales breed despite human intervention?

Well, I'm thinking of the whales in Antarctica primarily.

> What about sonar testing?

I forget where this is conducted, and which whale stocks are effected...

If the USA insists on this, that's too bad, but I'd have to see how this effects overall mortality of the stocks in question. Of course, I'd rather the sonar testing wasn't going on, but if it is, then providing the effects of it are known and accounted for, I'm ok from a sustainable use point of view.

> Can't the Japanese work something out to study those whales for scientific research?

In the Antarctic, what they are trying to study is complete populations of whales. When doing their sampling, they sail their ships on preset courses, and select their sample whales (the ones for killing) in a special way so as to ensure their eventual statistics don't have biases. It's not just a case of having any old dead whale to study. They are quite systematic in the way they go about it, and random dead whales are not necessarily representative of the stock to which they belong. The JARPA research is trying to take samples to get an accurate reflection of the stock as a whole.

It's not so much that whales are not special - the thing is that to me they are no more special than every other thing that we exploit. Everything is is special and everything that we rely on to sustain our existence should be respected.
> "Let's cull them cetacean critters before they get in the way of our catches."

The difference between a plain cull and whaling is that with whales, people actually want to use their meat for food as well.

In New Zealand there was a famous wild horse cull which got everyone going. I can understand that. But with whales, the idea is that people will actually eat them.

At it's peak, the Japanese population consumed 230,000 tonnes of whale meat in one year, apparently.
Today the stockpile is but 6,000 tonnes, and this is after a doubling in the size of the JARPA catch last austral summer. I think there is potentially untapped demand for whale meat there.

The other option is for humans to not take whales. Whales will possibly continue to increase, and in doing so, consume additional biomass, which may have implications for human fisheries.

The JARPN programmes are looking at these interactions, and the aim will be to look at not just the whales, but what the whales consume, and what the implications of this are. Out of that, humans can hopefully adjust our consumption of various parts of the ecosystem to ensure biodiversity is conserved, and obtain the best outcomes. We have sent man to the moon and back, so I'm prepared to put some faith in the scientists regarding this.

So what that statement in the declaration means to me is that "we have to look at the ecosystems as a whole, and balance our use of various parts of the ecosystem". Of course, whales that are killed would presumably be eaten by somebody, rather than just killed.

The alternative is to not use whales, and lose that source of food, and potentially through increases in whale populations, lose or see other sources of food reduced as well.

> Maybe "ecosystem management" should include some reduction in the number of people.

Many of our problems would be solved were their less people on the planet.
Unfortunately though, that doesn't seem like it is going to be the case, so we have to look at what we can do with the situation we find ourselves in.

For the record, the population of humans in Japan is actually decreasing now :-)
argh, late here too and I'm making silly grammatical errors. bah!
Because I'm a vegetarian, I am against other things as well as whaling, such as battery farming and "sport" hunting
I think people have forgotten that before we started the mass slaughter of species, Nature was working fine on its own. Culls on whales to protect fish stocks were not needed because humans were not there to overfish. The root of almost all society's (and the environment's) problems is human overpopulation. We need to use more contraception
Hi Chantal,

You are quite entitled to be against killing animals. But I suggest it's best to make further progress with this argument in your home country before you start looking overseas. To the whaling peoples, it seems hypocritical when countries that are famous for meat exports come complaining to them about killing animals.

> I think people have forgotten that before we started the mass slaughter of species, Nature was working fine on its own.

I think people have forgotten that humans are a part of nature as well. We aren't aliens. We developed on this planet, just like the rest of nature around us.

> Culls on whales to protect fish stocks were not needed because humans were not there to overfish.

Firstly, whaling is not about culling whales. It's about eating them.
Secondly, what the whalers are saying is that over-protecting one species while we continue to exploit the rest of their ecosystem could be bad for the ecosystem as a whole. The whalers are suggesting that if we are going to utilise the ecosystem sustainably, then we need to moderate our use of different parts of the ecosystem, to prevent imbalances. Instead of continuing the over-fishing of fish stocks, humans could reduce that dependency to a certain degree by shifting some of it on to abundant stocks of whales that are scientifically recognised to be able to sustain limited hunts.

> We need to use more contraception

Yes. This argument isn't much use against Japan however, as Japan's population is already on the decrease.

The reality is that food requirements are increasing, and thus it's inevitable that humans strive to use natural resources sustainably. This is a practical measure that we can take. Telling people to stop having babies is a good idea too, but the degree to which it will limit human population growth is not that great.
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