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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



Deception over whale meat demand in Iceland? Part 2

Yesterday I voiced some initial suspicion over claims from groups such as Greenpeace that "Iceland has no market for whale meat".

In support of this claim they state the fact that "In Iceland only 1.1% of the population eat whale meat once a week and 82% of 16 to 24 year olds have never eaten it"

This doesn't really tell us much at all, in fact. An important question is whether whale meat is actually available to be eaten in the first place. We have to remember that Iceland stopped commercial whaling quite some years ago, and only recommenced scientific whaling in 2003. Only small numbers of whales have been taken during the time, meaning supply would be limited to a few hundred tonnes, anyway.

My suspicions seem to have even more solid ground, after I noticed a news report in the Japanese media (my translation):
"An Iceland Fisheries Ministry spokesperson said on the 18th in response to questions from Kyodo Tsushin that the whale meat supplied from Iceland's resumed commercial whaling operation "will be mostly consumed domestically", and acknowledged that there were no plans to export the products to Japan or other markets.

The spokesperson stated that "as a result of whaling groups employing marketing staff, domestic consumption of whale meat has increased by 4 times over the past 3 years", expressing the view that the meat could be sold domestically.

With regard to the quota for fin whales, which is classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the official stated that "In the North Atlantic the species numbers 25,800. The level of resources can be maintained".
I wonder if it is foolish to believe the Iceland Fisheries Ministry instead of Greenpeace on these matters?

UPDATE: November 8, 2006
Iceland and Japan are now reported to be in negotiations related to resuming trade in Fin whale products (source).

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Here's the latest lunacy over Icelandic whaling, courtesy of the BBC:

Iceland rapped over whale hunting

Diplomats from 25 nations including Britain have delivered a letter of protest to Iceland's government over its resumption of commercial whaling.


"This united action shows the depth of feeling and concern not only in Britain but all over the world about this cruel and abhorrent activity," said Mr Bradshaw.

"Today's protest leaves Iceland in no doubt about the strength of feeling against its decision to side-step an international agreement to stop the killing of whales.

"It has done great damage to its reputation and image."


Last year anti-whaling nations sent letters of protest to Norway and Japan, the countries which catch the largest numbers of whales.

The problem for the anti-whaling bloc is that on almost every other significant issue, including other environment issues, they side with Norway, Japan and Iceland, making stronger diplomatic action difficult.

I don't know. Last time I looked, a formal protest was a pretty serious diplomatic action between friendly states. What else might be on the table? Recalling ambassadors for consultations? Severing diplomatic connections? Trade sanctions, asset freezing, and travel restrictions? War?

When you consider that the protesting countries have cordial relations with a number of odious regimes, whom they rarely if ever gang up on in this manner even over serious human rights abuses, you don't know whether to laugh or cry.
The fact that these nations usually side with Norway Japan and Iceland on other issues really spells it out quite clearly - perhaps, just perhaps, it is not the whaling nations who need to revisit their stance on this issue.

Can the arrogant anti-whaling nations bring themselves to admit this?

Interestingly only 25 nations could be mustered to participate in this. 32 voted against the St. Kitts and Nevis resolution, including San Marino and Switzerland. Those two nations for some reason haven't participated in this.
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