Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
UPDATE 02/14: I have added updated graphs including December 2006 figures below...
Tomorrow (9th Feb), Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will release
the December 2006 figures for the volume of marine products in cold storage, including of course our favourite, whale meat, amongst the array of other marine products that are consumed in Japan.November
was a bumper month in terms of outgoing stock volume. The figure was surprisingly large, even given the increasing trend in outgoing volume over the last 3 years for which data is available. My assumption is that the JARPN II by-product sell-off which commenced on November 29 may have been a reason for the large drop in stocks reflected in the November figures, in which case we may expect that the December outgoing stock figure to come in lower compared to the December 2005 figure of 626 tonnes (in 2005 the JARPN by-product sale didn't start until December 5).
I don't plan to have any graph updates for this until sometime next week, but I'll post the raw figures here around 24 hours from now.
* * *
UPDATE 2007/02/09 23:50:
The figures are below. December 2006 was another relatively big month for whale meat consumption in JapanOutgoing stock for December 2006
807 tonnes of outgoing stock (a 29% increase on December 2005). Obviously despite the large outgoing stock volume in November, retailers still wanted more product. Regional figures indicate a drop in stock for pretty much all the major regions with large volumes (graphs next week).
With the December 2006 figures in, we now see that total outgoing stock in 2006 totalled 8,558 tonnes, as compared to 5,955 tonnes in 2005 (a 44% increase overall).Incoming stock for December 2006
308 tonnes of incoming stock for December.
Total incoming stock in 2006 thus totalled 8,950 tonnes. This volume is just 5% larger than the total outgoing stock volume for 2006. Yet, this figure also represents a massive increase in supply compared with 2005, when total incoming stock volume was 5,832 tonnes (most of the increase is due to the JARPA II research expansion).
Taken together, the increased volumes of both incoming and outgoing stocks in 2006 indicate that there is plenty of demand for whale meat. 2006 consumption could not have been serviced if the lower levels of supply seen in 2005 had persisted.Total stockpile movement in December 2006
Total stocks dropped from 4,403 tonnes at November month end to 3,904 tonnes at the end of December 2006. By comparison, at the end of 2005 stock levels stood at 3,511 tonnes.
Despite the massive increase in incoming stock in 2006 of 3,188 tonnes, the stockpile increased by only 393 tonnes.Graphs
All the graphs below are based on official figures from http://www.maff.go.jp/www/info/bunrui/bun06.html
1) Annual volumes of whale meat coming on to and leaving frozen marine product stockpiles around Japan:
That's 2 years of solid consumption growth. Even if you throw in Iceland's tiny supply of whale meat (a few hundred tonnes according to some reports), we can expect supply to be roughly the same in 2007 as 2006. Accordingly, it won't be possible for consumption to exceed much more than 9,000 tonnes in 2007.
There will however be another significant increase in supply from 2008 onwards with the JARPA II programme getting fully underway (another 40 fin whales plus 50 humpbacks), which will allow for additional consumption. Beyond that, I suspect that Japan will probably have resumed commercial whaling one way or another by then (coastal whaling for starters), so who knows how much supply there will be.
2) Monthly stockpile movements since February 2004:
This is a new graph, showing the raw figures and the stockpile fluctuation.
Note that the trough stockpile level in 2006 (just under 3,000 tonnes around February/March) was roughly the same as the trough size in 2005. The trough level in 2007 looks set to be comparable as well, based on the current downward trend in the size of stockpiles.
3) 12-month moving averages:
This graph is a brand new one. "Freelance journalist" Junko Sakuma
made headlines last year with an "analysis" of stockpile statistics
. What she showed was average increases in the size of the stockpile over recent years, asserting that this shows a lack of demand for whale meat. This of course is nonsense, as is seen by looking at the figures in context
, and the above graph illustrates this as well in another way. In her propaganda piece, Sakuma never mentioned the statistics related to outgoing volume of stock - an obvious indicator of consumption - and the graph shows why: The 12-month moving average volume of outgoing whale meat stock is trending upwards, as has been the case with incoming stock as well. Sakuma's aim was to give the impression that consumption was falling, when in fact the opposite is evidently true.
* Note: The calculation I used here is to average the previous 12 months worth of figures - i.e., the final December figure indicates that the average volume for the 12 months to December 2006 was just above 700 tonnes. The incoming stock line is much jerkier than the more constant outgoing stock line because supply of whale meat is heavily seasonal in nature, whereas consumption is more constant all year round.
4) Cumulative graph:
This graph is a little bit redundant this month, as the graph of annual volume was rounded out with the December 2006 figures. Just a small difference in supply and consumption for the last 12 months. Given the increasing consumption trend, we can possibly expect this cumulative 12-month figure to go slightly negative sometime over the next 2 months.
5) Whale meat stockpiles by region.
What do you know? I found the figures for 2004 were also available, but for some reason they weren't supplied during 2005. So this is the graph with figures for 2004 and 2006:
This doesn't exactly provide the image of stagnant consumption that the anti-whaling propaganda merchants have tried to portray.
Labels: Junko Sakuma, stockpile figures, 鯨肉の在庫, 鯨肉の消費