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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



The market for Iceland's whale meat

There has been much speculation about what Iceland will do with the whale meat from it's new commercial hunt, with anti-whaling NGOs questioning whether a market exists for it.

The answer is clear today (from New Scientist):
Trade in minke meat between Iceland and Japan is legally possible, since both countries have a reservation on this species under the Convention in Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), says Moronuki.
Further (from IcelandReview):
Hvalur 9, the Icelandic whaler, caught its first fin whale off the coast of Snaefellsnes peninsula on Saturday.

According to captain and shooter, Sigurdur Njálsson, the 60-ton beast died immediately. The whale meat, around 20 tons, will be sold to Japan. This is reported in all the main media.
I have to take it to mean that Japan has a reservation on the fin whale species under CITES, as well as for the minke species, if it is to take the meat from Iceland.

This will make the anti-whaling NGOs furious, given that they have convinced themselves recently that there is "no demand" for whale meat in Japan (a clear fallacy). A successful trade operation will prove them wrong.

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I really like your posts of the discussion about the whaling around Iceland. Keep up the good work!
More to come so stay tuned!
Posted this on my blog in regards to your comment, so I wanted to post it here as well since you have an entry about it.

The IWC does not directly participate in the counting and tracking of Fin and Minke whales. The IUCN is in charge of that and they still have both whales on the red list. For a species that once numbered nearly a million, 25,000-40,000 is not enough to sustain genetic variety without protection according to many scientific journals (Refer to the same article you linked).

Many of them swim closer to the surface and many die every year from ships moving along their migration routes. If commercial whaling is allowed, their numbers will further decrease.

There is no evidence that the whales are negatively affecting the number of fish in and around Iceland. And even if they were, it is not the place of humans to decide there aren't enough fish so we must directly manipulate the food chain to benefit us.

Iceland is Europe's leader in geothermal energy and it continues to grow every year as clean energy becomes a bigger issue worldwide. The country's economic growth could easily be sustained by further investment in their renewable resources - far outpacing any fishing export or whale export, especially to only one place in the world that can afford it and has demand for it (Japan).

There is no cultural stimulus in Iceland to argue overturning the whaling ban. At its height in the early 20th century, whaling in Iceland has always been for economic reasons, not cultural sustenance. This is nothing like the Inuit natives in North America and Greenland who hunt the whale to sustain their culture and survival.

And whaling and tourism can not exist together if the former is on the endangered list of many world wide organizations. When their numbers return to 800k+, then we can re-open talks about a bilateral existence for whaling and tourism.

Thanks for stopping by.

My readers here can view my response to you over at your blog:


I'll be summarising the latest info from the IWC in a new post here on the blog shortly, which will address the issues raised :-)
The electro^plankton blog entry can be found by clicking here :-)

>My readers here can view my >response to you over at your blog:

I read your response to Plankon-san's blog.Very nice response!

I am unhappy to realize there is much biased information about the number of whales.
Many people,especially of anti-whaling bloc,think the data correct.

Although I understand they feel
whales are lovely,I would like to ask them to judge on the basis of scientific data.


Hear hear.

I posted information about North Atlantic fin whale growth rates in this forum as well, but as you can see one response questioned these figures.

I pointed out in a subsequent response that the IWC Scientific Committee is really the best source of information.

Many people are simply opposed to whaling, regardless of the facts that are available.

We need to carefully explain this information to gain understanding.
Okey, I'm going to save your response to electro^plankton and use it in every reply I do! :D

Always nice to see this debate on a fact based level. Most of the time i see the anti-whaling comments all about peoples opinion instead of the facts.
I wanted to point out to you the ongoing debate of wikipedia about this issue.

You can view it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whaling

Yes indeed. It's amazing that people feel so strongly about the issue that they are prepared to ignore information that is clearly contrary with what they wish to believe.

I'd say the Whaling entry at Wikipedia needs a lot of work :-)
This blog of mine is actually linked to already from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Whaling_Commission

Great to have you aboard, and be all means, if you hear any interesting information in the Iceland media, by all means, share! :-)
Hi Dadvid,

I have on question for you. Fumiko Saiga, the Japanese ambassador in Iceland thinks there is no demand for the Icelandic whale meat in Japan because they have so much from the scientific whaling, the market has all the whale meat it needs and more.

Is that the case you think?

> Is that the case you think?

No. If you go back a few weeks in my blog you'll find information about the whale meat stockpile movements.
1,700 tonnes of meat was shipped in July alone. This is far more than Iceland will have available to export.

So I'm sure the Japanese market could absorb the meat, but obviously the Icelanders will have to market the meat. A product does not just get up and walk around and market itself. The Icelanders will need to find willing buyers, and of course, the trade would have to be approved first as well at the government level I imagine.

So no, I don't agree with the Japanese ambassador, if that's really what she said. Got a link for that?
This comment has been removed by the author.
Here is the link, in Icelandic:

Ólíklegt að Japanir vilji hvalkjötið

Title in english: Unlikely that Japan wants whale meat
Thank you for that! :)

With the help of Google Blog search I'm trying to find as many places as I can where I can comments upon this! ;) Good that I've a little bit of spare time at my disposal!

And I'll let you know if something is going on in Iceland. There is not so much of new information though, and the media loves just to talk about that some foreign news agencies are talking about the whale hunting.

Thanks for the link, I'll watch out for news about that in the English media, although as I said, I don't agree with her.

Just to give some context:
In 1962, Japaenese whale meat production was more than 220,000 tonnes of whale meat.
In March 1980, the stockpile was at more than 20,000 tonnes
In March 2006, the stockpile was at just 3610 tonnes.

There are people who believe that there is quite a lot of potential for increased whale meat consumption in Japan.

Unfortunately, the foreign news media tends to report whatever the anti-whaling NGO groups are saying, which doesn't often help inform anyone too well :-)

Hopefully the Iceland media will pick up on the information posted by the IWC Secretariat on their homepage about the matter. There is very strong support for what Iceland is doing according to the facts.
>Fumiko Saiga, the Japanese ambassador in Iceland thinks there is no demand for the Icelandic whale meat in Japan because they have so much from the scientific whaling, the market has all the whale meat it needs and more.<


As a Japanese citizen,please let me give you some comments.

I think the comments of the ambassador ,Fumiko Saiga are for EU countries,not for her homeland ,Japan.:D

1.She well knows we (Japanese) have whale meat and catch whales under research.The clear thing is she does not say whaling is unnecessary.Also,she does not say we need not whale meat anymore.
If she really thinks it unnecessary, Japan Democrtic Party will immediately strip her position,because whaling is our important national policy.
First of all,please understand this.

2,About whaling,Japan is in the process of research while we are taking whale meat- this means we need not import whale meat to some extent.In other words,we are taking the resources fo ourselves.not with other assistance.This is very important to the small country,Japan which is always lacking of any resources.

Some people,especially of anti-whaling NGOs,say Japan need not
whale meat - this is totally wrong.
The truth is not that we need not whale meat,but that we have less chances to eat whale meat because of its high price or the moratrium of commercial whaling.(This is why our goverment is now promoting school-lunch of whale meat. )

As a matter of fact, the Japanese anti-whaling suppoters are in the minority.(about 5000 or 6000 ,most of which are GP Japan and some other animal lovers.)
Please compare the number of total population of Japanese;120,000,000.
It is improbable their opinions are accepted widely in Japan.
If whaling were unnessary,as I often say,it would already
have disappeared yet.It seems to me the supporters ,who are releasing misinformation to all the world, are a kind of "Criminals".

Please understand our situations in correct ways.

Hi! David-san,

>I posted information about North Atlantic fin whale growth rates in this forum as well, but as you can see one response questioned these figures.<

Thank you for the further information.I read them!:D

With your report,it is very easy for anyone like me to understand the facts about the populations of fin whales.

Next year I hear Japan will catch 50 fin whales,taking much data about the whale as well as the meat.I think it is more important to analyze the data and make it useful for us as the sustainable use of resources,rather than to sell the meat.

>I pointed out in a subsequent response that the IWC Scientific Committee is really the best source of information.<

I am sometimes discouraged to know most of people are not well informed of the correct data.
Through mass media,our government has to release the data (of the SC of IWC) to many people repeatedly.
Without trying to do it,the real resume of the commercial whaling would not have been probable.


Sorry for posting repeatedly.

Migagi prefecture sold whale
meat,to find many people rushing
to the market in lines.:D

2000 persons in a small city !
Suprise.This shows how much we like to have whale meat.

Clealy it is the biased info that the Japanese do not like to have


Anybody should note this.
GP Japan can ignore the fact
no longer.

Y/H-san, thanks for the news! I have translated the article and put it as a new post :-)

I also saw a long article in the Nikkei shinbun a few days ago as well, which has information about sales increases, plus another article about a whale meat processor in Shimonoseki. I'll hopefully get around to translating those as well :-)
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