Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
The October figures for the Japanese frozen whale meat stockpiles
should become available on the ministry's web page
within the next week or so, but in the meantime I tried summing the figures up based on a plain old January - December basis. Here's the graph:
- Note that the figures for each year aren't complete. Namely, 2004 is missing figures for the month of January, as the figures available at the ministry's website only start from February 2004. And for 2006, obviously figures for the 3 months of October through December are not available yet. The figures used in this graph are available in raw form here.
- The green bar represents the volume of incoming stock, and the purple bar the volume of outgoing stock.
- Despite the figures for January 2004 not being included, we can see that the total amount of incoming stock in 2004 was actually greater than in 2005. The true supply figure in 2004 was probably around 6100 tonnes, if we roughly estimate the January 2004 figure based on figures available for 2005 and 2006.
- Outgoing stock in 2004 however was significantly lower than incoming stock, resulting in the base level size of the stockpile increasing by probably around 1700 tonnes during that year. It may have been around the time that this became apparent that the argument that there is "no demand for whale meat in Japan" surfaced. This jump in the size of the stockpile may have been cited in support of that interpretation (?).
- However, in 2005, the level of outgoing stock jumped from what was probably around 4600 tonnes, up to 5955 tonnes - an almost 30% increase. Indeed, the level of outgoing stock in 2005 moved ahead of the level of incoming stock for the year, by around 100 tonnes. So 2005 consumption appears to have outstripped supply for that year (of course, only possible due to the existence of the stockpile)
- Again in 2006, remembering the the year's figures are still incomplete, for the first 9 months of the year the total of outgoing stock already exceeds the 2005 total by some 400 tonnes - a 6% increase year on year, still with 3 months of the year to go.
- Meanwhile, on the supply side, an increase of around 2200 tonnes year on year has already been confirmed, which is due to the commencement of the JARPA II programme, with expanded numbers of whales and species being sampled in the Antarctic.
- With the bulk of supply for the year already in stock (incoming stock for October ~ December might total as much as 700~800 tonnes), we see the level of outgoing stock to date is some 1710 tonnes in arrears of the incoming stock amount. This is interesting considering that 2006 supply will at least 2200 tonnes greater than in 2005 (maybe by year end this will look more like a 3000 tonne increase). The additional supply is thus clearly finding a market.
- We have seen that outgoing stock volumes are increasing year on year for all of the data that is available (with the exception for February 2004/2005, where outgoing stock decreased slightly in 2005). Conservatively assuming that consumption in the final 3 months of 2006 works out to be the same as in 2005, we could imagine that outgoing stock volume for the year will increase by an additional 1702 tonnes. This will take the total outgoing stock volume for the year up to more than 8000 tonnes, or another 34% increase on 2005 (or 73% up on 2004).
Whale meat consumption in Japan is certainly on the increase.
We will only see consumption in 2006 outstrip the incoming stock volume if increases in the final 3 months of the year turn out to be significantly higher than compared to 2005, but considering the big increase in supply from JARPA II, this is probably unlikely to eventuate this year.
Nonetheless, based on the increasing consumption trend, by the end of February (prior to the by-products from the second year of JARPA II hitting the figures), the trough level of the stockpile seems almost certain to come in below the low levels observed in 2006 and 2005 (2898 and 2837
The first I remember hearing of a "stockpile" of whale meat in Japan was in February 2006 this year, when WDCS raised the issue
. It might be an interesting exercise to identify the first time an anti-whaling NGO criticised Japan's scientific whaling on the basis of increasing stockpile levels.
Labels: stockpile figures, whale meat market, Whaling