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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



2006 Whale meat stockpile in context

A few days ago I looked at Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries statistics on frozen whale meat stocks.

Besides whale meat, stockpiles of other frozen marine products are also reported on the same monthly basis. Comparing the whale meat stockpile size with other marine products gives us some perspective about just how much (or little) the whale meat stockpile represents.

Here's the break-down of all frozen marine products for stocks held at the end of June 2006:

ProductProduct CodeStockpile (tonnes)% of total frozen marine product stocks
Mackerel2083 3368.10%
Salmon1378 6687.65%
Shrimp2876 1227.40%
Squid2973 9477.20%
Tuna660 2935.86%
Sardine1654 3625.29%
Pollock surimi3645 4874.42%
Other marine products3444 5434.33%
Shellfish2736 5733.56%
Other surimi3736 1993.52%
Bluefish1936 1813.52%
Pacific saury2135 2403.43%
Bonito1229 5492.87%
Herring1527 9182.71%
Octopus3323 4342.28%
Flounder2221 3362.07%
Trout1411 4181.11%
Cod239 0670.88%
Whale355 4900.53%
Sea bream255 4610.53%
Sword Fish113 4650.34%
Pollock243 4630.34%
Other fish products26226 96222.07%
Grand Total31 028 514

The anti-whaling propaganda would have us believe that whale meat, with around 5,000 tonnes in stock in July (shortly after the completion of the first year of JARPA II), is apparently in over-supply and can't be sold due to sluggish demand.

In the context above we see that, even at it's then relatively high level, the stockpile represented just half a percent of the total frozen marine products stockpile (more than a million tonnes in total), whereas for more widely established products such as Tuna, there was more than 10 times as much in stock.

One wonders if the anti-whaling propaganda would also have the world believe that Tuna isn't popular in Japan anymore either.

* * *

J-CAST News recently contacted the Fisheries Agency in response to reports in the Japanese media about whale meat and was told (Japanese article linked) that "there is no over-supply" of whale meat.

The same article also quoted a medium-sized wholesaler as saying "We're stocking it so that we can sell it, so it's incorrect to characterize it as over-supply".

The basis for such statements is quite clear looking at the whale meat figures in context, as above.

* * *

Historically, Japan's production of whale products hit 226,000 tonnes in 1962, but then as the IWC took action to protect over-exploited stocks, production rapidly fell. By March 1980 the whale meat stockpile is reported to have stood at just 10% of that amount at 22,157 tonnes (TRAFFIC). As we see from the Ministry's recent statistics, the stockpile is markedly smaller today even by 1980 standards, with just 3,610 tonnes in stock at the end of March 2006 (16% of the 1980 stockpile figure, and just 1.6% of the massive production in 1962).

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Geishoku-labo also
says it is NOT in over-supply.


Yes indeed!

I have been meaning to translate some of the info on the Geishoku-labo page for non-Japanese people.

As the person at Geishoku labo says, there is still only limited whale meat available, so it's not appropriate to think of whale meat as a staple food for daily meals, but still as as kind of "special food", suitable for events or to add a bit of diversity...

Thank you for the report of
frozen stockpile of many kinds

I looked at the data attentively to find some of them were
not usually eaten as daily food.

For example,such fishes as herring,sword fish and flounder are not usually sold at super-markets.Sardins are popular,but
acually we do not buy them as
first choice.In the sense,they are as same as whale meat.
(Of course I know these frozen fishes are mainly used for materials of food products.)

But this does not mean these fish are unnecessary. This is also true of whale meat.

So, the conclusion is the data
given by a dolphin-lover woman of
Japan is misused for anti-whaling propaganda,and she misled a large number of Japanese,as well as people in the world.

The data has to be used only in her LITTLE HOBBY.I strongly suggest she should not play with the data.

Y/H (Japan)
Are you talking about that freelance "journalist" (anti-whaling campaigner) Junko Sakuma?

I don't recall the comments of her reports exactly, but I do remember thinking that I needed to take them with a bucket of salt.

It always pays to get the original figures for these things where ever possible. Unfortunately, the western media is illiterate in that they can't read Japanese, so have no hope of verifying the statistics presented by these anti-whaling people.

Hopefully via the internet we can get the truth out to more people, so that we can one day have a more rational debate based on *all* the facts.
>Are you talking about that freelance "journalist" (anti-whaling campaigner)
>Junko Sakuma?


I looked into her personal profile and found she is terribly lacking the knowledge of marketing &economy.Obviously she is ignoring how goods are sold and bought by people.She is nothing but to play with the data.

I do know if she is interesting in ecomomy or marketing,but I believe all she has to do is to study the field first,and then the wild animals.

If her opinion were correct,it would have meant everyone is allowed to release the misinformation as per his or her will.

"I do not like sardins,so they are unnecessary."
"she does not like tuna, so Japan need not go to other area of sea"
"Mackerel should not be sold at supermarkets,because it is a allergen to me"

This is the world of cartoon or comedy- such a deed to mislead many people is a kind of crime.
But,she did it.

She should know better.

Hi David,
I have looked with interest at the stats you provide. Do you also have some statistics on the actual consumption/sale on a month per month basis for, let's say the last ten years? As far as I can see the consumption must have increased? Thanks in advanche. Rune Frøvik, High North Alliance

Thanks very much for taking the time to visit - it's always a pleasure when one of the subjects of my blog turns up and posts a comment!

Unfortunately the frozen marine products data listed on the Ministries webpage only goes back as far as February 2004, although I suppose it's probable that they have older figures archived somewhere.

However, I don't think there is any doubt that consumption has increased quite significantly since the 1990's, by virtue of the fact that supply from research programmes in that decade was equivalent to 550 minke whales annually, which works out to around 2,000 tonnes, by my reckoning. Today of course we're talking more like 6,000 tonnes.

The new company set up to market whale meat earlier this year, "Geishoku Labo" has their own graph depicting the situation...

The graph at the top of their page shows whale meat production dating back to the over-exploitive 1960's. The 226,000 tonne figure was for 1962. The following two green bubbles show the adoption of the moratorium in 1982, and then the commencement of scientific whaling in 1987.

The second graph below that shows the price (grey line) of red meat from the Antarctic minke versus the level of supply. I believe the price in grey is the wholesale price, based on the fact that it has apparently just dipped down below 2,000 yen in recent times.

So the supply of whale meat from research programmes was relatively limited 10 years ago. Now, this year in July alone the 1,700 tonnes shipped makes it clear that consumption has certainly risen well above 90's levels, although with supply continuing to rise as well (until 2007/2008 when JARPA II starts fully) it's still not quite at a level high enough to reduce the stockpile. But, given the recent exposure whale meat is getting in the media here, I think it's just a matter of time before this starts to happen, definitely by nexy February I'm guessing, if not the end of the year or even earlier if there are a few strong months. Retail prices are apparently still relatively high, so there should be further demand hidden away there yet, I believe.

I'll be watching out for the September figures which should be out in the next fortnight or so, and will update the figures / graphs I have.

Hi David,
Thanks very much. I need some figures to illustrate market development, to debunk or corrobate some allegations out there. Increase total consumption, per calendar year, per fiscal year, or other? Increase supply? Stockpiles at a specific time for some years, eg. end of August 2004, 2005 and 2006? And if you could indicate the source providing these figures, that would be fantastic. Thanks. Rune, High North Alliance
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