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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



Junko Sakuma's report on "missing" whale meat

Japanese "freelance journalist" (anti-whaling activist) Junko Sakuma has released a new report.

This time she's convinced herself (and the no-doubt willingly gullible WDCS) that 500 tonnes of minke whale meat has mysteriously vanished (she speculates that it's been dumped at sea, without providing any such evidence). She bases her theory on the fact that her own estimates of how much meat would result from the first season of the new JARPA II programme turned out to be wrong.

Apparently Junko wrote in a January newsletter last year, before the JARPA fleet returned, that it should result in 3,688 tonnes of minke whale meat. I suppose she looked at the 1,895.1 tonnes of minke meat that was sold by the ICR following the 2004/2005 JARPA season (comprised of meat from 440 minke whales), and figured that the average amount of meat on a minke whale must be 4.3 tonnes. 4.3 multipled by 853 actually works out to 3667.9 tonnes, not 3,688 tonnes, so I don't know for sure how she calculated it (no methodology provided).

The actual figure for 2005/2006 by-products marketed was 3,168.7 tonnes, which was below her expectations (which in turn were based on her own assumptions).

As with her "analysis" of stockpile figures, Junko either only considers information that fits with her desired fairy story, or is simply not that well-informed. In her article she ignores all of the following (and probably various other factors which haven't sprung to mind):

1) The fact that the average size of male and female Antarctic minke whales differs (females are longer and weigh more). The figures presented on this chart indicate that males grow to 8.5 m and weigh in at 7.1 tonnes, while females grow to 8.9 m and hit 7.6 tonnes.

2) The fact that the ratio of males to females sampled each year isn't constant. There is thus the potential for fluctuations in the amount of whale meat produced each year. In the 2004/2005 season, 59.8% of whales sampled turned out to be female, where as in the 2005/2006 season, the figure was only 45.8%. Naturally the amount of whale meat in the latter case would be expected to be less, due to the lower proportion of females in the sample. For this reason alone, Junko's assumption that there is a basically constant average yield each year is implausible. And it doesn't end there...

3) The fact that researchers have observed decreasing nutritional condition in minke whales during the period of the JARPA programme (see for example the Japanese Government JARPA review papers related to trends in blubber thickness). Given this result indicating decreasing blubber thickness over time, we would expect the average meat yield per whale to trend downwards as well (as opposed to a constant average yield throughout, notwithstanding the male : female sample ratio issue noted above, which introduces extra variability). Due to the low number of females sampled in the 2005/2006 season, the average yield was possibly below the trend, whereas in the previous two seasons when a higher number of females were sampled, the average yield was possibly above the trend (the 2003/2004 season also saw more females than males sampled). There is no mention of this from Junko in her article - and in fact she illustrates her ignorance of the JARPA results by claiming that "nobody has talked about the possible shrinking of the whales".
(Furthermore, this simple analysis here also does not consider differences between the two distinct stocks of Antarctic minke whales that are recognised to exist within the JARPA research area)

4) The fact that the sampling methodology changed between the old JARPA programme which ended in 2004/2005 and the new JARPA II programme which commenced in 2005/2006. Junko makes no mention of how a probable change in sampling representativeness might affect the comparability of the JARPA and JARPA II yields (for example, might the JARPA II sampling methodology result in more younger whales being sampled than with the original JARPA methodology?)

For the record:

From "Review of general methodology and survey procedure under the JARPA":
"Although JARPA was originally planed to take samples from all primary sighted minke whales with a maximum of two whales from each school, it was reduced two to one since 1992/93 season"
From "Plan for the Second Phase of the Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPA II)"
"A maximum of two minke whales per school sighted will be taken by random sampling."
I.e., one whale per school was sampled for most of the JARPA programme, whereas JARPA II has gone back to sampling up to two minke whales per school.

In conclusion, if I were a teacher of investigative journalism, Junko would be flunked in my class - twice already.

* * *

Junko notes that she picked up some "Blue whale" meat from somewhere. Blue whale in Japanese is "shiro-nagasu kujira", where as Fin whale is simply "nagasu kujira". She says
"Anybody can ask me to for the DNA test."
I would suggest that instead of sitting around writing up fairy tales about vanishing whale meat, she should report this sale to the authorities immediately, along with the location of the "average supermarket", in addition to her proof of purchase. It is illegal to market the proceeds of blue whales caught in fixed fishing nets (of which there have been no reports), and the FAJ regards this species as endangered. A person such as Junko, who represents an environmental NGO group, ought to take more responsible actions than this.

She also says the meat didn't taste any good - everyone has their likes and dislikes, and clearly many do enjoy it. Perhaps it's also possible that Junko's cooking skills are as poor as her analysis skills and investigative journalism.

Final question on this point - why is her photo of the meat in black and white? Maybe she ought to buy a new mobile phone...

* * *

Regarding the market for whale meat, she notes a fisheries industry report indicating a sharp rise in market price (retail prices, presumably), and also acknowledges that the 267.1 tonnes of fin meat obtained from JARPA II sold out "immediately" (I hope the Icelanders are reading this).

However, Junko complains that the price of fin whale meat was "Too cheap!", because it was sold at the same price as Minke and Bryde's whale meat. If she calms down and puts aside her preconceived ideas she will realise that the government is not setting the price based on scarcity or to "make a killing" on the deal - the government is regulating the price so that a certain proportion of the research costs will be recovered.

Finally, with respect to what she regards as a "campaign" (not just plain old media interest) to boost whale meat sales (involving privately owned Nippon Television) Junko says:
... the achievement of the campaign is unpredictable. We will continue careful observation to see if the whale meat sales will increase as they expect.
Junko only needs to review the recent stockpile figures without her blinkers on to find the answer.

Labels: , ,

Junko is a dolphin lover who
knows nothing except herself.

All she has to do is to study
mathematics at elementary

Nonsense woman.

Sorry again.

I looked into her essay attentively and found it is full of laughter.

As to the vanished 500ton whale meat,it means nothing to me at all.

Regarding the 500ton,probably the point she would like to appeal is that JFA or ICR hid it and abandon it into the sea.

But...So what? Is there anything
wrong? If the 500 ton is unnecessary for some reasons,it should be abondoned.

I do not realize why she sticks to the 500 ton .

If the 500 ton vanished,
what would happen to us in our daily life?

If the 500 ton was taken away to the cold sea, the sea would vanish ?

If the 500 ton were lost,she would be late to get married?

It is quite nonsense for anyone to look into the location of the 500 ton.

If she wants, I sincerely suggest she should ask NASA or some agency to investigate.

We,ordinary citizens, are not
detectors. Basically she should
know it.

>>>it's also possible that Junko's cooking skills are as poor as her analysis skills and investigative journalism.<<<

(*o*) Junko is single? or married?She has to go to cooking school immediately.There is much for her to do before she says nonsence propaganda.

>>>Junko only needs to review the recent stockpile figures without her blinkers on to find the answer.<<<

Yes! That is right,David-san.
But she seems to be busy for
her LITTLE HOBBY for the 500 ton.

The word LITTLE HOBBY... a
nonsense anti-whaling NGO'S
woman used .


Well I don't care much whether she is single or married (let's not discuss such things here please!), but I get the impression that one way or another she isn't objective about the taste of whale meat - probably more likely due to her associations than her cooking abilities. There can not be that many people with links with a dolphin and whale *protection* NGO who also enjoy the taste of whale, even if they did happen to have good cooking skills.

As for the 500 tonnes - she does seem rather fussy about it, given that it most likely never existed in the first place. She ought to feel embarassed that her predictions were so wrong. I imagine that this year will prove her wrong once again, although who knows - the whaling is in Area V this time mainly, versus Area IV last year.

Amusingly, I saw some Greenpeace chap basing his own "analysis" of stocks on an assumption that there was a yield of just a single tonne of meat per minke. You'd think if these people are going to make grand claims and pretend that they know something they'd at least check such basic facts. Junko at least did this much, but makes a fool of herself by failing to consider whether there might be other reasons for the differences - which they are plenty as I outlined - the people who I feel sorriest for are the people who can fool themselves with their own propaganda. Recursively gullible :)
>I don't care much whether she is >single or married (let's not >discuss such things here please!)

Sorry, David-san.I keep it in my mind.Marriage is a private matter

Jynko's essay is not for scientific research,not the fact data useful to our important policy at all.

Her main purpose is to make many people confused and misled,simply because she believes her deed is to save whales.

For my view,I know she chooses nice words,but clearly it is nothing but a junk report in a weekly magazine in which they show scandals of a person,or the complaints of our government.

Quite nonsense.


Very good assessment!

I also heard ridiculous stories about Yokozuna Asashoryu bribing other sumo wrestlers to let him win tournaments.

I wonder if the author of those stories went to the same school of "freelance journalism" as Junko.
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