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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



The "open minded"

TVNZ has a story covering the bunch of foreigners who came out of their way to not only Japan but the small town of Taiji, to protest against a part of the local people's way of life, a historical element that is a significant part of the town and it's people's identity.

Says TVNZ:

The Japanese have been eating dolphin and whale for centuries and some Kiwi punters are open minded about it.

"I'll try a bit of dolphin if it tastes good," says one member of the public.

But others are not as game.

"I'd hate to think that they'd be killed so I can eat them," one person said.

Just a couple of opinions there, but good on the media back home for trying to get a bit more diversity into it's portrayal of opinion than the western mass media usually manages.

* * *

Meanwhile, some days ago a short AFP story was carried at Africasia, but it disappeared rather quickly, and as I can't find it elsewhere I'm going to reproduce it here:
26/10/2007 15:11 LAGOS, Oct 26 (AFP)
Strayed baby whale found dead along Nigeria, Benin border

A baby whale that strayed along Nigeria's sea border with Benin was found dead by dozens of enthusiastic people who carved it up, witnesses said Friday.

The whale, measuring around 12 metres (about 40 feet), was believed to have beached Wednesday night on Nigeria's side of the border town of Seme between the two west African neighbours.

"The animal must have died from helplessness after straying from the sea," a witness told AFP.

He said the crowd went with knives, cutlasses and other sharp objects to have a slice of the dead whale.
Perhaps this story is somewhat indicative of whether people in Nigeria (a non-IWC member) would agree with the western anti-whaling campaigners' oft-pronounced "world opinion" against whaling.

* * *

Kiwis have made the news in the past for eating whale meat (hark back to this very old post).

I've had whale meat with kiwis visiting / staying in Tokyo on at least two occasions that I remember.

Another recent visitor wasn't keen on the idea when I asked whether he was interested.

The nice thing is that while some friends are keen to try it out, and others are not, it's no big deal. Either way, friends are friends, and the idea of such a difference spoiling a relationship so laughable that it seems strange to even write about such a possibility.

Up at the international level, this wonderful trait of decent, mature human behaviour -- mutual respect -- is not the norm as far as issues of cetaceans are concerned, and it's strange when you consider it's significance in the bigger scheme of things.

In the upcoming months we'll probably be hearing much about the ICR's first catch of 50 humpback whales in it's JARPA II programme. Did this have to be the case? Recalling events from IWC 59 this year:

Anti-whaling nations, including Australia, have rejected a compromise deal offered by Japan to scrap its controversial plans to hunt humpback whales in the Antarctic.

Japan proposed to abandon its humpback kill in exchange for Australia's support to allow Japanese coastal communities to kill minke whales.

Another part of the compromise proposal (in full here), was that:
Catches of minke whales under Special Permit in accordance with Article VIII of ICRW will be reduced by (***) animals so that the total take will not be increased by the adoption of this quota. In the western North Pacific, 220 minke whales per year are now being taken as part of the JARPN II program from the same stock that will be exploited by community-based whaling.
Essentially, Australia and it's band of supporters at the IWC had the chance of not having those 50 humpbacks taken, in exchange for accepting no change in the numbers of whales killed in the western north pacific. Those in Australia who claim to be concerned about the impact on the commercial whale watching industry of the 50 humpbacks being taken in the Antarctic feeding waters during the summer would have had nothing to (purportedly) worry about.

But the compromise package was rejected anyway - so instead of having the status quo, but with some of Japan's hunt in the western north pacific opened up to IWC regulations, the majority at the IWC opted for nothing, and Japan will go ahead with it's expanded JARPA II program anyway.

Thus the concerns voiced regarding humpbacks seem to be exposed as hollow and empty. It is not so much about the whales as it is ensuring the issue is dragged out for as long as possible. The "moratorium", completely useless as it is, is still for some nations more important to preserve than the whales it was hoped to protect.

How much more meaningless does the "moratorium" need to become before people start to rethink things? Why don't Australia and New Zealand re-assess their goals at the IWC? Rather than trying to ban people all over the world from catching whales (showing no consideration at all for the many people this negatively affects), they might simply try to get consensus agreement to not hunt whales in the so-called "Southern Ocean Sanctuary". I suspect such an agreement might be possible (say provisionally for 10 years anyway), but they'd have to be prepared to have a little friendly respect for their peers in places like the western North Pacific, and the central and eastern North Atlantic, who are not unreasonable to hope to exploit at least those resources found geographically close to their shores (indeed, they already do, anyway, so it's the easiest of compromises to swallow).

This is the way I see it (It should be noted that Australian representatives seem to see things differently - or at least, only from their own perspective).

We don't live in such a simple world though. Politically, it seems evident that there are some (the types you wouldn't be able to have a friendly difference of opinion with) who will never accept any kind compromise, or any level of respect for that which they are have aimed their cross hairs towards. This fringe minority is politically important, and with nothing to balance it in the constituencies of some states, their leaders will never have reason to compromise in a reasonable fashion, but reason not to.

But we can be optimistic. The Internet is helping make the world smaller and smaller. The great dynamic I enjoy with people I have the pleasure of knowing is eventually certain to pervade through into international society as well.


Glad to realize Japan sides with Nigeria... Way to go!
Amazing. Dolphins showing more humanity then you or your Taiji muderous friends. Not bad for a fish.

People eat dolphins.
Get over it! (and yourself)

Dave, did you catch the puff piece in the latest New Yorker on Tubby Watson and his sinking circus?
The usual puffery with celebs, made up swash buckling histories and lack of any real environmental justifications for his antics.
"The Internet is helping make the world smaller and smaller. The great dynamic I enjoy with people I have the pleasure of knowing is eventually certain to pervade through into international society as well."

Yes, I agree but at the same time as we are indeed seing more info sharing I'm left thinking that the anti-whaling "conflict" is a manufactured one kept alive by a very small and unrepresentative segment of the population along with a willing media, both of whom have a built-in profit motive.
The key, at this point is to ensure that the media are increasingly kept accountable and held to ever higher standards.
Julius Streicher was dropped through the trap door at Nuremberg even though the presiding judge recognised that the man had never harmed anyone directly. He was the editor of Der Sturmer and as such was held responsible for contributing to the conditions that led to the holocaust.
This historical lesson seems to have bypassed the editors of a number of news outlets in the West who are more than happy to propogate prejudice in the form of canned animal protests.

Here's the latest one sided coverage from the UK Telegraph that funnily enough is prone to renouncing the Animal Protest industry when their antics hit closer to home such as when it applies to fox hunting, for example.

(New twist on the "unique" animal at risk scenario)
Mr "Anonymous" shows once again that this whole storm in a tea-cup has nothing to do with environmentalism or conservation but is related to much baser needs of a small segment of the population.


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