"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.I wonder if it is foolish to believe the Iceland Fisheries Ministry instead of Greenpeace on these matters?
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".
The need for good governance at all levels was a theme echoed by many speakers.And:
Among the outcomes to be further considered by the SUSG ... the need for wider understanding of the contribution which hunting makes to pro-biodiversity land management and livelihoods.I'm not a hunter myself and I probably never will be. The same will go for many people who care about conservation, and thus likely have a kneejerk reaction of cringing at the idea of recognising the killing of animals for recreation as an OK thing.
Early results indicate minkes eat more cod than local scientists recently thought. The smallest of the baleen whales, minkes are equipped with short stiff baleen allowing for a varied diet, including cod, the fish that about a quarter of Iceland’s total export earnings come from.Also:
“Last year all the meat was sold,” Víkingsson says.Really? I've been reading from various sources that because there is no demand in Iceland for whale meat, and (alledgedly) no export market, that Iceland's decision to resume whaling makes no sense.
I have a growing suspicion that, as is the case in Japan, these reports about a lack of demand in Iceland could be (deliberately?) inaccurate. I would not be surprised if the reports we are hearing in the western media about a lack of demand in Iceland is actually more due to a lack of supply.
While whale meat accounts for less than one percent of meat sold through the country’s largest meat seller, Nóatún, it is enormously popular in restaurants.
In Reykjavík’s Saegreifinn restaurant, they call it “Moby Dick on a Stick” and sell it to tourists fresh off whale-watching trips. In Akureyri, a waitress at the popular Bautinn says that minke meat is the favorite special.
NEWSWEEK: Your critics have condemned Iceland’s resumption of commercial whaling as cruel and unnecessary.Thumbs up to Rune.
Rune Frovik: The whalers are using very efficient hunting methods. The animals are dispatched with a grenade and die without suffering. About 80 per cent of the minke whales killed [for scientific purposes] in Norway die instantaneously.
But is it necessary?
This is an environmentally friendly way of providing food and it provides people with a living. You could just as well say there is no necessity for chicken or fish. We could live very well without either of them. People are entitled to be emotional; compassion is good. But you can’t hide the fact that whales belong to the animal kingdom, and as long as most people are prepared to eat other animals then we can’t see a big difference between eating whales and eating beef.
On the other hand, surveys suggest that there is now really very little demand for whale meat.
My understanding is that the whale meat that reached the Icelandic market was actually sold, so there must be some demand. Of course, there may sometimes be large stockpiles in the freezers, but that is because you have to supply the market through the year. But as Iceland increases its whaling they will look overseas, and export to Japan.
How can you justify killing the fin whale when it’s officially classified an endangered species?
The Icelandic population of fin whales is actually superabundant. International scientists agree on a total of around 25,000. That may actually be close to pre-exploitation levels centuries ago. It’s just wrong to say that it’s vulnerable or threatened with extinction. Iceland is capable of taking care of its natural resources when many other countries are not, as it has shown with [the preservation] of its cod stocks. The endangered status applies to the species as a whole and dates back to when there was heavy exploitation in the Southern Hemisphere, where the population was seriously depleted. But these are separate stocks which don’t mix. It’s like saying that the Chinese people are endangered because there are only a few in Iceland.
If that’s so, why were the fin whales ever listed as endangered?
It’s basically political. It makes a good sound bite—and a lot of journalists have swallowed that. The public has been misled. It doesn’t make sense to talk about a species being endangered rather than distinct populations.
If whaling continues, won’t Iceland’s image suffer, in particular, its tourism trade. Thousands of visitors now go Iceland just for whale watching.
People said the same after Iceland resumed scientific whaling in 2003. It didn’t happen. In fact the number of tourists increased. The same is true of Norway [after it also reintroduced scientific whaling]. We are living almost at the top of the world, close to the North Pole, and people will understand that this is how we make a living. We are seafaring people who harvest the bounty of the sea.
The whaling industry is small. Why does the issue generate such passion?
We consider this as an attack on our identity and our way of life. If we are told we are not allowed to use what is an abundant natural resource what will it be next?
|Month||Stockpile size at previous month end||Incoming stock||Outgoing stock||Stockpile size at current month end|
Whale meat distribution: Up to 3 kilograms of red meat at 6,000 yen per household, residents form long queues - Onagawa / MiyagiOnagawa in Miyagi prefecture is home to one of Japan's historical whaling communities (Ayukawa), which is probably how they manage to qualify for this sweet deal through the ICR. The wholesale price of red meat is just slightly below 2,000 yen a kilogram, so the residents of the town are basically getting it at the wholesale price determined by the government. In general markets the price tends to be significantly higher due to retailer mark-ups.
Onagawa's "whale meat distribution" began on the 23rd, with frozen red meat of minke whales taken in research whaling sold at bargain prices.
In response to the IWC's blanket ban on commercial whaling, the town has been acquiring several tonnes of red meat and blubber for the distribution via the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research since 1995 .
Each household is limited to 3 kilograms of red meat (6,000 yen). This price is more than 50% below market prices, and this year again half of the households in the town, approximately 2,000 took up the offer. Long lines formed at each distribution point.
10/24 morning edition (Mainichi Shimbun)
the Scientific Committee’s work on implementing the RMP would only allow it to make recommendations on safe removal limits for some stocks of common minke whale (in the North Atlantic and North Pacific). It is in the process of completing work on western North Pacific Bryde’s whales (*David: see note at bottom of page) and it will begin the final two years of work on North Atlantic fin whales next year.Given that the IWC Scientific Committee will be able to provide advice within the next couple of years on Fin whale quotas in the North Atlantic, I assume that the Icelandic government will hold off on increasing quotas substantially before that time (Iceland's IWC representatives took great interest in this at this year's IWC plenary on Day 2). Once the implementation work is completed however, there is little reason to believe that Iceland would not issues permits up to the limits advised as sustainable by the IWC Scientific Committee.
There are estimated to be 25,000 fin whales in the North Atlantic, which is thought to be more than 70% of the pre-exploitation level, says Vikingsson. "You can't say that there is a danger of extinction," he says — not in the North Atlantic.I haven't seen official IWC endorsed estimates of pre-whaling abundance of these stocks in the Icelandic region, but given that the figures of current abundance that they reported have been clearly endorsed on the IWC's homepage, I will assume that they are correct on this point as well.
The minke whale is classified as 'near threatened'. Vikingsson says the Icelandic population is thought to be at 90% pre-exploitation levels.
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.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.
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.
"the current system — an undefined temporary ban — isn't feasible anymore"The editorial concludes:
"If the world agrees that limited hunting of recovered stocks should be legalized (a big if), countries should draw up a clear regulatory system based on reasonable quotas according to region and species. If whaling is just too abhorrent for activists, they should lobby the United Nations for a permanent ban. Because letting the status quo unravel is a recipe for bringing back whaling, like it or not."This is reminiscent of the comments of incoming IWC Chairman Bill Hogarth of the USA, who said after the conclusion of IWC 58 in St. Kitts this year that
"What the United States wants to do is try to find a way to protect whales but at the same time recognize some harvest".The US is to be commended on this pragmatic, realistic approach. Of course, they have little choice given that the US plans to argue for a continued bowhead whaling quota for it's own people next year.
"It is the anti-whaling countries and animal rights groups that have hamstrung the IWC and prevented it from doing its job. Iceland set a reasonable target date for the IWC to establish a management system but the usual suspects thought they could be clever and delay progress forever. They were wrong. When you equivocate endlessly, the world has a tendency to move on without you."
NOAA Fisheries says it has begun the process of setting new bowhead whale subsistence harvest quotas for 2008, to 2017. The current quota expire at the end of 2007. That quota was set by the International Whaling Commission. It determined that up to 255 whales could be landed between 2003, and 2007. The new quota also will be determined by the IWC.According to IWC endorsed estimates, the stock of Bowhead whales that the Americans will be taking their harvest from numbers around 8,200 to 13,500 (as of 2001) with a rate of increase of about 3.2% per year.
The commission is expected to meet in Anchorage in May of 2007. During that time, it will consider reauthorizing the western Arctic bowhead quota for another five years. NOAA is soliciting public comment. More information can be found on the Web at www.fakr.noaa.gov/protectedresources/whales/bowhead/
"without anything else going wrong, fin whales were close to extinction."This is inspite of IWC Scientific Committee apparently having endorsed the estimate being reported by Iceland of 25,800 fin whales in Iceland's waters, and the IWC Scientific Committee recognising 10% growth in the stock between 1987 and 2001 (as I noted previously). It's hard to see a species going extinct when in that part of the world it is growing that strongly over such a sustained period of time.
"They [Iceland] can't be taken seriously on any environmental issue in the future"Given his own statements, such talk is extremely ironic.
"It is unbelievable that our politicians are so slow in allowing whaling to be resumed, in spite of all the advice that says this is safe. The Marine Research Institute's figures expect 200 minkes, 200 fin whales and 100 sei whales to be caught annually for scientific purposes, which is around the same amount that we were catching when we had all four ships at sea. We need to have licences to catch 150 to 200 fin whales to be able to start the factory up again", he said.Just yesterday another report appeared suggesting that he was ready for action if the government would just give the go ahead.
"I really do not understand why all this research is being carried out when the results are ignored. Research shows that the sei whale stock is very strong and can support exploitation. It's as if our politicians are giving the scientists at the Marine Research Institute the finger by not following their advice. If the same example was followed in fisheries, we would have to bring fishing to a halt for hundreds of years. Politicians are very conservative in their thinking as regards whaling, while they are prepared to push fisheries right to the edge"
1) A Scientific Committee RMP workshop on fin whales held recently
"agreed on best estimates of current abundance in the Central North Atlantic ... and the eastern North Atlantic"
Yet, in New Zealand, dear old Chris Carter (Minister of Conservation) has tried to tell his voters otherwise, saying that
"there is not yet scientific consensus on fin numbers. The IWC's scientific committee is reviewing the population status of fin whales at present. It is fair to say there is widespread disagreement."
So, Chris Carter is caught telling lies again (that's what politicians are for, I suppose). I'll be writing to his press secretary to inform him of this.
2) Regarding the natural rates of increase in the relavent area:
"The Workshop had noted that estimated abundance west and southwest of Iceland increased at an annual rate of 10% (95% CL: 6% - 14%) between 1987 and 2001. This is the area where nearly all Icelandic fin whaling has been conducted since 1915."
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."
new measures earlier this year to try to address the issue and b) accept cuts for the next 5 years to compensate.
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.
A continuation of the good news for the Southern Right Whale, from Dr. Peter Best:
The Southern Right Whale population off the Southern Cape coast is responding "optimally" to protection measures, researcher Pete Best said on Monday.
In a statement announcing the start on Tuesday of the latest of a series of annual aerial surveys of the migrant whales, he said this year's survey would be the 28th.
"During this period, 900 individual adult females have been identified, and the birth of some 2 700 calves has been recorded, and estimates of survival rate, age at maturity and calving interval obtained.
"It has also been possible to show that the population has been increasing steadily at seven percent a year throughout," he said.
This figure was based not only on direct census results but also on a population model independent of possible changes in the efficiency of the aerial survey.
"It has been demonstrated that this rate of increase is the maximum possible biologically, indicating that the population is responding optimally to protection," he said.
Best is attached to the Mammal Research Institute of the University of Pretoria, which will carry out the survey.
He said the survey covered a stretch of coast from Nature's Valley near Plettenberg Bay, to Cape Town.
Scientists would use the survey to photograph all the cow-calf pairs seen.
"As Southern Right Whales are individually recognisable from the pattern of wart-like callosities on their head, the photographs taken enable scientists to follow the reproductive history and survival of individual whales over many years," he said.
He said that though there was doubt about exactly how many Right Whales there were in the late eighteenth century when exploitation started, the best available evidence suggested that current numbers were about one sixth of their initial level.
He said the whales started to arrive off the Southern Cape coast in mid-winter, and were normally gone by the end of each year.
Some headed to feeding grounds in the South Atlantic between 40 and 55 degrees of latitude, while others went up the West Coast.
Best said it was possible some headed for the Indian Ocean.
Apparently individual Southern Right Whales calve once every three years.
Slovenia, with a 46-kilometre Adriatic Sea coastline, has no history of whaling or whale-eating and is rarely visited by the mammals, but had protected them since 1993, said a government official, Andreja Kriz.Slovenia is EU member, and thus obliged to protect wildlife, huh.
"Slovenia is actively involved in whale conservation," Ms Kriz said. "The only missing link was [a seat on the commission]."
The decision to join had been made because of Slovenia's more active involvement in the issue, she said.Ms Kriz said Solvenia's membership of the EU obliged the country to protect wildlife, and imposed strict regulation on trade in whales and their products.
In Slovenia's hunting areas you can hunt brown bear, roe and red deer, wild boar, chamois, moufflon, fallow deer, small game (hare, pheasant, duck), and small predators (pine marten, fox, stone marten, badger).Hmmm. So apparently hunting wildlife is actually OK, but whales (which don't visit Slovenia's 46km coastline in the first place) are to be protected? I wonder if Slovenia's officials really aren't able to spot the hypocrisy here.
|Product||Product Code||Stockpile (tonnes)||% of total frozen marine product stocks|
|Pollock surimi||36||45 487||4.42%|
|Other marine products||34||44 543||4.33%|
|Other surimi||37||36 199||3.52%|
|Pacific saury||21||35 240||3.43%|
|Sea bream||25||5 461||0.53%|
|Sword Fish||11||3 465||0.34%|
|Other fish products||26||226 962||22.07%|
|Grand Total||3||1 028 514|
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