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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



Additional whale meat stockpile graphs

Figures on frozen whale meat stockpiles from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan go back as far as February 2004.

I've extracted the whale meat figures for each of these months and created some additional graphs.


The first set are two illustrations of the outgoing whale meat stock figures, which can be regarded as an indicator of consumption. These graphs specifically show the different rate of outflow in each month of the year, compared across the 3 years (figures for Jan 2004 and Sep 2006 onwards are not available).

Click on graphs for larger version

From these graphs we see that, in all but one month, the volume of outflows increased from 2004 to 2005 and then again from 2005 to 2006. Only for February 2004 to February 2005 did the volume drop. Shipments increased in every other case.

This confirms the general increasing consumption trend, although consumption is especially rocky in 2006. July especially saw an unprecedented amount of frozen whale meat shipped (at least from a modern times perspective). An ICR press release indicates that JARPA II by-products (including long-not-tasted fin whale meat) were put on sale from July 3 to August 3, and of course this was also the month after the high profile IWC meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis. At this stage these factors are my best guesses for the big spike in shipments.


The next graph of figures illustrates supply changes for each month for the last 3 years (again with no data available for Jan 2004 or Sep 2006 onwards).

Click on graph for larger version

2006 shows the huge increase in by-products in March/April due largely to the expansion of the JARPA research programme.

In 2004, for some reason the timing of the supply differed from 2005 and 2006, with seemingly only a fraction of JARPA by-products getting included in these figures initially, but then higher levels of supply were maintained over the summer months. The reason for this is not obvious, so it could perhaps have something to do with the survey method used by the Ministry when compiling these figures. At any rate, supply in 2004 and 2005 is clearly less than in 2006, as was to be expected with the JARPA programme expansion.

Whale meat for non-profit purposes

The final graph is based on figures published by the ICR regarding the amount in tonnes of whale meat by-products that were put on sale after the JARPA and JARPN programmes completed each year. Despite the big rise in supply, the amount of meat set aside for non-profit purposes (school lunches, special distributions in traditional whaling areas) has only been increased slightly, indicating that most of the additional meat is being disposed of on the general markets.

Click on graph for larger version

Figures for JARPN in 2006 are not yet available as these meat by-products have not yet been put on sale. Going by ICR press releases from previous years, the JARPN meat will be sold mainly in the wholesale markets during the month of December (although this meat is already reflected in the stockpile figures).

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Thank for your nice graphs !
Through your graphs,I find the consumption of the whalemeat
is stable.

Yes,the Japanese are eating whalemeat!:-)

There is no reason at all to believe some anti-whale NGOs' misinfo: the Japanese do not eat whalemeat.

About the boosting consumption of whalemeat,Geishoku Labo says as follows,

"We are afraid of being involved in troubles because we do not prepare to meet requests fully.
Though we also have to consider the circulation(of market), there is a clear sign that our topic surpasses any worry."

(Sorry for poor transration.)



Thanks for the information! Yes, I have seen a similar concern written about in I think the Asahi shinbun news story as well.

At the end of the day, I feel a bit sorry for the western public. They seem happy to believe any old nonsense about this issue that they read in the western media. They aren't likely to understand the issue properly because their media are letting them down so badly.
No, David, it is you who are letting us down. Saving the whales was the one good thing that humanity has done for the environment. Whale meet for non-profit purposes? You've got to be kidding. Getting it into school meals is a way of creating a new generation of whale-eaters. I had no idea that things in Japan were so bad that Japanese schoolchildren were so malnurished that they had to eat whale meat. Obviously a nation of starving waifs....

Thanks for stopping by.

There appears to be no plausible risk to whale stocks today due to whaling. Scientists have noted this repeatedly in the last couple of years.

The threats to vulnerable whales stocks today are invariably ship strike and entanglement in fishing gear.

Whaling operations are targeting relatively abundant stocks of whales, where as stocks that have not recovered from over-exploitation such as the Blue whale, Northern Right whale and Western Grey whale are not subject to whaling. And where whaling is conducted it is being conducted at very conservative levels that represent less than a single percentage point of the estimated abundance in each case, which is below the replacement yield of these stocks.

Whale meat is distributed mainly via the general markets, as figures indicate. Only a minor portion is set aside for use in school lunches in certain regions and distribution in areas which have strong community traditions based around whaling and whale meat.

In the absence of a reason to stop passing on traditions to one's children, why would you? Whaling people's have no reason to throw away one part of who they are.
In fact, after World War II whale meat consumption accounted for almost 50% of the protein consumed by the Japanese according to some reports I have seen.

Today this has dropped back significantly as the food situation in Japan has improved, but traditional whaling areas still continue to include whale meat in their school lunch menus. Such diversity is a positive thing.
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