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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



Whale meat stockpile update - Februrary 2007

February marine product stockpile figures came out today (Japanese PDF format, Excel format). As always, the details for whale meat are below.

February 2007 outgoing stock: 601 tonnes

Not as big an increase versus the same month last year as we saw with the massive January 2007 figure, but still a chunky 39% increase compared with February 2006.

February 2007 incoming stock: 397 tonnes

Like January 2007, 397 tonnes represents another large incoming stock figure based on statistics from previous years. This figure is 2.76 times the figure for the same month last year.

I'm still not sure about where this is coming from, but last month the Ministry responded to a query I sent them in relation to it. They told me that their survey of storage facilities doesn't explicitly specify what species/products should be classified as "kujira", hence the Minsitry couldn't confirm for me what cetacean species are represented in the stock figures. I'm going to take a look at the stranding / bycatch records (sometime, when I have time) to look for further clues.

February 2007 overall stockpile movement: Down 204 tonnes to 3,161

This translates into just a 6% decrease in stockpile size in February. Even with the 39% increase in outgoing stock volume on the same month last year, the uncharacteristically large incoming stock volume went a long way to cancelling out the effect.
Compared with the end of February 2006, the February 2007 stockpile levels were 263 tonnes (or 10%) higher.

This is likely going to be the lowest level of stock that we'll see over coming months, as the JARPA fleet had returned to Tokyo by the end of March, presumably unloading whale meat by-product into storage facilities before the month end.

Graph: Annual volumes
Outgoing stock for the first 2 months of 2007 is 62% higher than in the first 2 months of 2006.

Incoming stock (for some reason, which as noted above, I've not yet been able to determine) was 130% higher than in the first 2 months of 2006.

Graph: Monthly stockpile movements
With the unexpectedly large incoming stock figure of 397 tonnes for February, stockpile levels haven't bottomed out below 3,000 tonnes as I predicted last month, but with less incoming stock in March/April 2007 than 2006 due to the JARPA fire accident, the stockpile peak size will probably be lower than in 2006 - maybe 5,000 tonnes or thereabouts.

Graph: 12-month moving averages:
Outgoing stock volume continued to increase year-on-year in February. The Nisshin Maru fire tragedy occured in the middle of the month, and it was announced that the fleet would return to Japan early around month end. This announcement may have had some impact on the behavior of whale meat sellers and purchasers in March.

This Incoming Stock moving average should go a bit wild over the next few months, as March / April 2006 saw the return of the JARPA fleet at that time last year.

Graph: Cumulative volume:
Another wrong prediction - the big incoming supply in February didn't see total outgoing stock over the past 12 months exceed total incoming supply, afterall.

Graph: Regional whale meat stockpiles:
Still, the regional stockpiles march on downwards.
  1. Tokyo wards: 820 tonnes -> 707 tonnes
  2. Hakodate: 617 tonnes -> 518 tonnes
  3. Ishinomaki: 485 tonnes -> 490 tonnes (a 5 tonne increase!)
  4. Kushiro: 418 tonnes -> 374 tonnes
  5. Kanazawa: 281 tonnes -> 267 tonnes
  6. Osaka: 266 tonnes -> 256 tonnes
  7. Shimonoseki: n/a -> 116 tonnes (also increasing, back into the top 7)
That's 2,728 tonnes (86%) of the 3,161 tonnes of total stock held in these top locations.

While the JARPA by-product was apparently to be landed in Tokyo, it'll be interesting to see where it shows up in the stockpile figures next month.

* * *

March figures will be released on May 11.


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