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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



Southern Bluefin Tuna quota cut

Earlier this year there was quite a hoohaa when an Australian representative had his comments on a Southern Bluefin Tuna overfishing investigation leaked to the media. The CCSBT (The international management cooperative set up for southern bluefin tuna) homepage noted at the time that these matters were still under investigation.

The CCSBT has just concluded their 2006 meeting, and while their homepage hasn't been updated with any of the meeting information yet, the media is reporting that as expected the quota has been cut due to over-fishing attributed to Japanese operators (this was reported in the Japanese media earlier in the month). Reports indicate that Japanese operators are to bear the bulk of the cut to compensate for past over-fishing.

In 2005, Japan exceeded its 6,065 ton quota of southern bluefin tuna by 1,500 tons, which a Fisheries Agency official said had helped contribute to the decision that cut Tokyo's quota to 3,000 tons for five years from 2007.

"There is also a possibility that Japan may have overfished a bit in other years besides 2005 as well," the official added, citing surveys by fishing experts.

"Therefore we had no choice but to accept the decision."


The Fisheries Agency official blamed Japan's previous overfishing mainly on sloppy record-keeping, adding that fishing rules were toughened earlier this year to combat the practice.

Up until this year, Japanese ships sent in periodic reports on their catches to the Fisheries Agency, which declared the season over when the quota was met.

Under the new rules, which took effect in April, each fishing company was allotted a specific quota and will be required to tag each fish showing when and where it was caught.

Ships are also permitted to unload their catch only at specific harbors, with violations punished by forbidding ships from leaving harbor, up to two years' prison and a fine.

It is still too early to say how much Japan has fished this year, the official said, adding that Japan voluntarily cut its quota from 6,065 tons to 4,500 tons to make up for 2005's overfishing.

The Australian media is full of commentary (ABC, The Australian), reporting the story with a much more "Australian" (critical) slant than Reuters and other international media.

Naturally, over-fishing must be punished if we are to have properly and sustainably managed use of marine resources, so in recognising past over-fishing the Japanese government has taken the appropriate measures by a) putting in place new measures earlier this year to try to address the issue and b) accept cuts for the next 5 years to compensate.

However, the question for me is how will the Japanese government implement the cuts. Have they identified the operators who were responsible for the over-fishing? Or will the whole Japanese industry bear the cuts as a result? One hopes that the dirty operators can be traced.

Meanwhile, in the Japanese media reports are that the quota cut is certain to put upward pressure on SBT prices. Legal annual supply will be down to just 11,000 tonnes (twice the whale meat stockpile).

Interesting to note that the SBT is regarded as "Critically Endangered" by the IUCN, yet Australia is happy for fishing to continue, while on the other hand they protested loudly when Japan announced that it would issue scientific permits for just 50 "Endangered" Fin whale with the start of the JARPA II research programme.

In reality, apparently the "Critically endangered" designation is widely disputed and regarded as being misleadingly negative, but it's useful to point out Australian double standards on the use of marine resources.


If we have to abandon "Southern Bluefin Tuna ",we have other choices.

One of them is WHALES!

>Australian double standards on >the use of marine resources.

OK. Next year, we wll enjoy
eating humperback whales.

That's the irony, isn't it?

For the overall Tuna market I've read that since SBT only currently makes up 3% of supply, the impact of the SBT supply reduction shouldn't broadly increase prices, but for the SBT market specifically - Australian exporters included - if they seek to increase their prices as a result of the reduction in supply they may find themselves driving away customers.

Apparently the luxury bluefin tuna currently wholesales at 2,000 a kilogram.

As you say, whale meat is an obvious alternative and whale meat wholesale prices are comparitive around 2,000 a kilogram.

I'm not sure about actual consumer prices, but I imagine that with supply of SBT greater than whale meat, SBT prices are probably lower, but that seems likely to change according to reports.

Lots to tease Australia on here indeed:

1) They are continuing to hunt this "critically endangered" species - taking juveniles for fattening rather than natural mature fish at that - while oppose hunting of "endangered", and "vulnerable" species such as the Fin and Humpback whales by other nations (not to mention completely un-endangered minke whales).


2) Southern Bluefin Tuna is not neccessary. It's a luxury product. One of the grounds on which Australia opposes whaling is because it's not necessary: "the consumption of whale meat is negligible and in each of the whaling nations this limited consumption can be replaced easily by some alternative." Of course, the difference is that Australians are making money out of exploiting the tuna resource as food.



By the way Y/H-san, did you see NHK "Ohayou Nippon" this morning? At 6:40 AM or so, they had a piece on the increasing consumption of whale meat here in Japan (it was mentioned on the geishoku-labo site). For those who missed it:
- A Maruetsu supermarket representative (IIRC) acknowledged that their whale meat product sales are up by 150% this year.
- The kids in Wakayama featured enjoyed their whale meat school meal, with one young girl saying that whale was her favourite type of meat.
Thank you for the reply to my
short comments、David-san.

In comparison with fish,
whales, as mammals, are low in
birth rate - this might be why anti-whaling countries regard them as "endangered "or ""vulnerable".

As you often say,the ICR research clearly shows Fin Whale or Humperback whales are increasing.

Looking at the facts,we have no choice but to think anti-whaling countries are incorrect or misled.

As AU and NZ are the nice bisiness partners of Japan,I do not think we need to have hostility against eachother.I ask them to remember the fish farming technology
of Japan handing to AU or other countries.

Simply what I would like to request them is not to release
malice information.

I will not get into trouble even if SBT disappears in markets.
There is much marine foods for us to choose. But it does not mean SBT is unnecessary.This is also true of Whale meat.

>One of the grounds on which Australia opposes whaling
is because it's not necessary<

Ausies,please do not decide our choices.We decide. You do not need to decide our choice.Or, Ausies need Apartheid to Japan?

>By the way Y/H-san, did you see NHK "Ohayou Nippon" this morning?

Thank you for the info,David-san.
Unfortunately I missed to see it.

> At 6:40 AM or so, they had a piece on the increasing consumption of whale meat here in Japan (it was mentioned on the geishoku-labo site).<

Glad to hear the news!

> A Maruetsu supermarket representative (IIRC) acknowledged that their whale meat product sales are up by 150% this year.<

I am living in Kansai district and nowadays I sometimes see the advertisements of whalemeat in handbills (chirashi)of department stores.And the other day, I found an advertisement of Fin Whale Sushi on the wall of a Sushi Bar.

Although I am happy to see the increasing sales of whale meat,
I am also unhappy because the retailers tend to make the meat luxury.

Basically whale meat must not be luxury food.

Y/H (Japan)
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