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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



JARPA II 2006/2007 Update #22 - Irony

Greenpeace's latest propaganda on the ICR fleet:

"The international community must now ensure that this sub-standard fleet never returns to place the Antarctic environment and marine life at such risk again."

That's right folks - this from the same organization whose Arctic Sunrise vessel has been caught on camera ramming it's bow into the starboard side of the Nisshin Maru.

For those who've never seen it, the photos are here and here, and a couple of videos of the incident can be found here and here. Greenpeace's own video itself shows them up in an exceedingly poor light.

The ramming incident was due to either the malicious intent of the Arctic Sunrise's sub-standard captain, or due to his negligence.

On their weblog, Greenpeace stated that:
We'll get some video footage of the incident up soon. It's possible this ramming was purposefully done in a way that makes us look bad if you don't have all the facts. Fortunately, the video record makes it obvious the whalers were at fault.
Greenpeace's activists also put their sanctimonious attitude on display here and here. Obviously concerned that the video evidence shows overwhelmingly that Greenpeace was in the wrong, they put another article together here for their willingfully gullible drones, concluding that:
It appears that the Nisshin Maru may have carried out this manoeuver deliberately, with pre-placed camera operators, to obtain footage which could fool a viewer into believing that the factory ship was an innocent victim, when the opposite is true.
After reviewing the videos and then reading this statement, it's hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

In a separate incident in the Caribbean, the same rogue Greenpeace vessel illegally entered the waters of St. Kitts and Nevis:
... the ministry reported that the infringement was also a threat to the marine environment.

Specifically, in this case, “jeopardizing the barrier reef which protects the Eastern Atlantic Coastline of St Kitts and Nevis and other fragile near-shore marine eco-systems.”
Now today, we see Greenpeace suggesting that it is the ICR fleet that puts the Antarctic environment and marine life at risk.

I can think of few organizations that are as sickeningly self-righteous as Greenpeace.

* * *

A further irony from Greenpeace's corporate head, Steve Shallhorn:

"The Japanese government does not file an environmental impact assessment when the whaling fleet operates in Antarctica," he said.

"While there is no legal obligation to do this, as a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, the Japanese government does have an obligation to follow the spirit of the international agreement and their whaling operation shatters both the spirit and intent of the treaty."

Chris Carter's "irritatingly preachy sanctimoniousness" has found it's match.

Will Greenpeace's apparent new found respect for international agreements be extended to the ICRW?

After all, as signatories to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, the world's anti-whaling governments do have an obligation to follow the spirit of the international agreement, and their refusal to compromise on their extreme "no whaling" position shatters both the spirit and intent of the treaty.

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IWC Normalization meeting result

The JFA has a press release (Japanese) regarding the result of the IWC Normalization meeting that was held in Tokyo last week.

Apparently only 3 of the so-called "anti-whaling" nations turned up - Switzerland, South Africa, and Oman.

The main recommendations appear to be:

1) Steps to build mutual trust and procedural problems

Amongst the suggestions here is that inappropriate and emotional statements be prohibited. I should think that this should not be to much to ask of an international commission of states who have all signed the same convention.

2) Increasing awareness of various positions

The suggestion here is that to ensure fair representation of information, links to each nations' position be presented on the IWC Secretariat's website. Also, it calls for greater coverage of the findings of the Scientific Committee in relation to whale stock assessments and research results in the IWC Secretariat's press releases.

3) Cultural diversity. The meeting recommended that the IWC adopt a resolution regarding cultural diversity and the contribution of regional societies to resource management. As a part of this the meeting suggested that the IWC recognise Japan's small scale coastal whaling operations.

4) Interpretation of the ICRW. There was a recommendation that a special group be established to look into the consistency of amendments to the ICRW's Schedule with the Convention itself. Additionally, where signatory nations can not reach agreement over such issues, 3rd party legal opinion should be sought.

At the meeting, the Swiss representative apparently suggested that the extremist "no whaling" position was not helpful, and that there was a need to compromise.

After IWC 58, Bill Hogarth of the USA (and new IWC Chair) also suggested that compromise was necessary. I forget exactly how he described it, but it seemed to me at the time that he was basically suggestion that the IWC take up Japan's position but dress it up differently. For example, instead of abolishing the moratorium, maintain it but make exceptions for limited whaling.

The two camps are poles apart however. The pro-sustainable use camp wants the ICRW interpreted to the word (optimum utilization of whale resources), where as even moderate nations like Switzerland who recognise that "no whaling" is not a feasible option still seem to want to have less whaling than is currently the case.

The level of whaling should not be determined by the politicians. It is up to the Scientific Committee to advise on safe catch limits, which they will do via the revised management procedure mechanism.

I think odds are on that the IWC will collapse either this year or the next.



JARPA II 2006/2007 Update #21 - Nisshin Maru operational

Kyodo Senpaku's crew appear to have completed repairs and safety checks to the Nisshin Maru, which suffered a fire accident on the Thursday the 15th.

The accident took the life of Kazutaka Makita of Kagoshima prefecture. His body commenced it's journey home several days ago.

A Mainichi Shinbun article (now archived at Google) tells us that after leaving high school, Makita-san entered vocational training school, and found himself working on ships. He had been working on the Nisshin Maru for about 3 years. Only being able to return to his home and family for one or two months each Spring and Autumn, he was said to always be looking forward to seeing the growth of his daughter (6) and son (1).

Another excerpt from a 373news article (also at Google, my translation):
According to Nisshin Maru's owners Kyodo Senpaku (Tokyo, Chuo ward), the processing area is on the floor below the deck, 18 metres wide, 60 metres deep and 3.5 metres high. It is used for processing and freezing whale meat after investigations and dissection is complete.

Makita-san started work in the processing area on the morning of the 15th from 12 am. He finished work at 2:30, and was seen in the area's standby room. He was recognised as being missing at the time of the roll call after the fire breakout.

According to crew members, a burning smell was noticed at around 3:15 and at 3:30 a smoke detector had sounded. The ceiling was apparently burning fiercely.


On November 20, 1998, a fire broke out in the processing area while the Nisshin Maru was heading towards the Antarctic. The Japan Coast Guard is said to have investigated, but was unable to identify the cause.
Hopefully the cause of this latest fire in the processing area is identifiable.

* * *

Sea Shepherd, out of fuel after wasting time sailing around the Ross Sea for six weeks, made their way back to port in Melbourne where they got a suitable greeting:
Customs officers have boarded the anti-whaling vessel Robert Hunter within minutes of it docking in Melbourne's Victoria Harbour, around 3pm this afternoon.


Four customs officials, two of whom were armed, boarded the vessel for a routine search that could take up to two hours.

The Robert Hunter must register under a new flag before 11am tomorrow (midnight British time) when its British registration expires.

They naturally failed to get a new registration. Perhaps some very financially strapped state such as North Korea might be convinced to permit the Robert Hunter fly it's flag, but there's little doubt that respectable registries will no longer want to have anything to do with Sea Shepherd after their behaviour two weeks ago.

The Ministry of Forestry and Fisheries has a page of recent press conferences (sorry, all Japanese), and the Nisshin Maru situation, the IWC Normalization meeting, as well as the attacks on the Kyodo Senpaku vessels by Sea Shepherd have been covered quite a lot. It seems that the Japanese government may take some form of action in response to Sea Shepherd's unlawful behavior.

Elsewhere, Paul Watson is quoted as saying:

"I don't believe in the word 'sustainable', it just means business as usual under another name.

"With a population of six-and-a-half billion people on this planet and growing, there is no such thing as a sustainable fishery. There are simply too many people and not enough fish."

Australian and New Zealand fisheries workers must be at least a bit concerned about the level of support this fringe extremist appears to have in those two nations. If they aren't worried, they should be.

* * *

Last of all, the ICR has pictures, video, and a press release regarding the now operational Nisshin Maru. In their press release the ICR is critical of New Zealand's Chris Carter, who was busy in the media suggesting that the Nisshin Maru is:
"... filled with rather nasty and toxic chemicals"
That's probably the most immature thing I've ever seen Chris Carter come up with. Greenpeace for their part have been producing more Alarmist and Armageddonist propaganda throughout the whole episode:
"It is also clear that significant and harmful impact to the Antarctic environment is imminent ... " -- Esperenza crew, February 16
That's Greenpeace PR spin for: "We can't protest whaling for our fund-raising purposes, so let's call out 'wolf' as loud as possible to at least try to get some attention in the meantime".

* * *

This could be Greenpeace's last season in the Antarctic. In 2007 new IMO guidelines will be introduced which may make further voyages to protest Japanese whaling un-economical. New guidelines will define reasonable limits for peaceful protest, which will hit Greenpeace's bottom line. Unless of course, Greenpeace chooses to ignore the new guidelines. This is quite possible, given that Greenpeace currently uses non-peaceful forms of protest in relation to Japan's legal whaling activity.

Of course, one would hope that Greenpeace would cease it's protest activity in preference to do something about the real conservation problems facing the whales today:
MIKE ILIFFE: I think there needs to be an agreement on what are the real issues, and if the IWC could just focus on things like global warming, pollution of the oceans, netting, underwater noise and so on, that really are threatening whale populations, then maybe we could put the hunting issue aside as being irrelevant or insignificant in the overall scheme of things in a sustainability sense. Then they could get on with dealing with the real issues.
The ultimate decision lies with Steve Shallhorn, the corporate boss of Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

Greenpeace still ostensibly believe in their 1970's era dogma that commercial whaling can never be sustainable, despite the IWC Scientific Committee having concluded work on the RMP 15 years ago:
"... it's certainly true that if commercial whaling were resumed under the revised management procedure, it could be managed safely." -- Judy Zeh, former IWC Scientific Committee chair
The year today is 2007, and the world faces new conservation challenges. It's time that Greenpeace moved on, if they hope to remain relevant.

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Old Road fisheries development project in St. Kitts

Fisheries ODA news from St. Kitts:
Japan and St. Kitts and Nevis value relations

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, FEBRUARY 21ST 2007 (CUOPM) - St. Kitts and Nevis' Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said Tuesday the twin-island Federation values its relationship with Japan.

"Japan continues to be a very important development partner, not only in St. Kitts and Nevis, but also in the region by your non-borrowing membership in the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)," Prime Minister Douglas told visiting
Japanese Ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis, His Excellency Koichiro Seki.

Dr. Douglas, in welcoming the Trinidad-based diplomat, who is in the Federation for Wednesday's handing-over ceremony of the new fisheries development project at Old Road, six miles west of Basseterre, noted that Japan and St. Kitts and Nevis have had good relations over the past several years.

"We want to thank you for the continued assistance for our economic diversification programme as fisheries plays a major role in the transition from the production of sugar to a non-sugar agricultural programme coupled with an economy based on tourism, financial and information technology services," said Prime Minister Douglas.

The Japanese diplomat noted the current visit was his third, having presented his credentials early last year and also attended the International Whaling Conference at the Royal St. Kitts Marriott Resort.

"Japan thanks and appreciates the support of St. Kitts and Nevis in the international arena and hopes the relationship will continue to prosper," said Ambassador Seki, who told Prime Minister Douglas, that he is inspired by the efforts of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis to diversify the economy.

The Japanese diplomat promised to assist in other areas of agriculture.
The St. Kitts government website has stories about the development here (Sep 8 2006) and here (Dec 7 2006), while the Embassy of Japan site from Trinidad and Tobago has details of the grant (Jul 1 2005).

Of note:
Minister Liburd said that the output from the Old Road Fisheries should reduce the overall imports of fish into the Federation.
Let's hope so. This important message received coverage in the Caribbean, where Minister Liburd was quoted elsewhere saying:
“We have all these tourists coming here, what are we going to feed them with, are we going to ask the United States to send the fish here?"


"That's not what we want. We to want to be able to benefit from tourists coming to our country and that's what we have to look at."


"The Windward Islands have suffered with their bananas. St Kitts and Nevis have suffered with their sugar industry. Our tourism industry is moving at a pace and we don't want to see the importation of fish coming into our country.”
Securing sources of foreign currency income (exporting rather than importing) appears to be a common theme for developing nations, as seen in my previous posts regarding Suriname and Honduras.

Good luck to the Old Road Fisherman’s Cooperative and the Fisheries Ministry with their management of the new facilities.

* * *

Some western NGO's have made statements to the effect that developing nations such as St. Kitts have to make a choice between the development of their marine resources or the development of their tourism industry. The suggestion demonstrates no consideration for the independence and sovereignty of such nations, but rather a mix of pure ignorance and arrogant self-interest. A certain western NGO even went so far as to illegally enter St. Kitts and Nevis at the time of the IWC 58 meeting, breaking their own accountability charter in record time.

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JARPA II 2006/2007 Update #20 - Japanese crew member's body recovered

Readers will be aware of events in the Antarctic over the past week.

While there had been grave fears for the safety of human life and property in relation to violent protest activity against the JARPA research fleet, a different type of terrible situation arose with a fire breaking out beneath the deck of the Nisshin Maru. While the ICR and NZ authorities have reported that they were satisfied that the oil and fuel on board the ship is safely contained, one of the Nisshin Maru crew members was reported missing after the evacuation of the ship.

The body of 27 year old Kazutaka Makita has today apparently been recovered by his crew members.

UPDATE: Below is the text of the press release from the ICR:


17 February 2007 (p.m.)

“Today, the crew of the Nisshin Maru were able to search the area of the vessel that caught fire. It is with great sadness they have reported finding the body of sailor Kazutaka Makita, who succumbed to the effects of the fire.

“He was located at 08:20 am (local time) on the second deck close to where the fire began and quickly spread throughout that area.

“Mr Makita, 27, was from Kagoshima Prefecture, south of Kyushu Island. He has played an important role aboard Nisshin Maru.

“This is deeply saddening. The Institute of Cetacean Research and Kyodo Senpaku express their heartfelt sympathy to Mr Makita’s family,” Dr Hatanaka and Mr. Yamamura said.


The Japanese version of the press release is here.

The Nisshin Maru was scheduled to return to the port of Kagoshima in April. I suppose there may be changes to those preparations in light of this tragedy.

UPDATE #2: 373news.com has more details (my translation):
The body of Kazutaka Makita (27) of Kawanabe town was discovered on the 17th at 08:20, near the meat processing area where the fire is believed to have started. The cause of death is believed to be carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

According to Kyodo Senpaku, owner of the Nisshin Maru and Makita-san's employer, smoke had cleared enough to make a visual search possible. 3 crew members donned oxygen masks and began their search around 08:00. Makita-san, who was last seen around an hour before the outbreak of the fire in the processing area, was found fallen at the entrance of the area's standby room.

The ship's doctor, Dr. Sugiyama conducted an autopsy, and while burns were found on both of Makita-san's arms, his death is believed to be due to large inhalation of smoke, leading to CO poisoning. The estimated time of death is unknown.

The company informed Makita-san's family by telephone. Two officials have been dispatched to Makita-san's home in Kawanabe town. Company president Kazuo Yamamoto said "This is extremely unfortunate. We are very sorry, especially as he was so young".

The fire on the Nisshin Maru broke out before dawn on the morning of the 15th. On the 17th at noon Japan time, fire extinguishing work is continuing, with heat insulating agents being used to smoulder the remnant hot spots.

There is no concern of the ship sinking, but cables have been burnt, and the possibility of the vessel continuing on it's own power will be investigated once the fire has been completed extinguished.
* * *

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NHK cartoon on IWC Normalization

Y/H-san pointed us to an NHK article, accompanied by a great cartoon (view it at the original link). The cartoon perhaps sums up the national broadcaster's take on the IWC normalization issue (no translation here... yet, who knows).

As readers can tell for themselves, the cartoon likens the IWC circus to a boxing ring, with Japan, Korea, Norway and Iceland representatives all standing in the red corner of the ring, which is emblazoned with a whale picture labelled "Commercial Whaling Resumption".

Meanwhile, in the blue corner, a sign is placed on the boxer's stool proclaiming the position of the other team: "Absolutely Opposed". Outside the ring, the blue team is a shambles, with the New Zealand representative is seen vigorously tut tutting those who are still willing to fight, the British rep sitting on his bum, the Aussie rep skipping rope, and the completely disinterested American rep is infatuated with a newspaper article about Iraq.

The Japanese rep is wishfully indicating to the blue team reps to get back in the ring, while the Iceland rep is crossing off another year of whaling in 2007.

A jaded looking ring girl is staggering back between the ropes to indicate that it's time for the 25th round...

* * *

There should be more in the media about the outcome of the IWC Normalization meeting tomorrow.

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Whale meat stockpile update for December 2006 figures

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 Japan

Outgoing 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.


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.

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JARPA II 2006/2007 Update #19 - Sea Shepherd madness

In their last ditch at media-glory, Paul Watson and his band of rogues have attacked two of the ICR's vessels - the Nisshin Maru (mother ship) on Friday, and more recently the Kaiko Maru - a dedicated sighting survey vessel.

Sea Shepherd's actions have been condemned across the board:

USA IWC Commissioner (and new Chair) Bill Hogarth:

“I’m disappointed Sea Shepherd took an action that risked lives,” said U.S. IWC Commissioner, Bill Hogarth. “We passed a resolution last year to discourage this type of rogue activity. The United States is extremely concerned that encounters like this could escalate into more violent interactions between the vessels. We still oppose Japan’s research whale hunts, but the way to resolve this is through the IWC process. These dangerous confrontations in the Southern Ocean must stop before someone gets seriously hurt or killed.”

“The safety of vessels and life at sea is the highest priority for the United States and the nations that respect the rule of law on the high seas,” said Hogarth. “I ask all parties to respect the Commission’s wishes and immediately refrain from any acts that risk human life or safety at sea.”

NZ Conservation Minister Chris Carter:

``What they are doing is putting their lives at risk and ... I feel, compromising a very strong conservation message because I think most fair-minded people would see it as extreme overreacting to put your life at risk,'' he said.

New Australian Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull:

Australia's Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull tonight said that while Australia remained opposed to whaling, Sea Shepherd activists should refrain from dangerous action.

"We again call on Sea Shepard to conduct their operations in a safe and peaceful manner," he said in a statement.

"The type of action they are now proposing - such as ramming vessels - could result in a tragedy."

And of course the ICR:

“Sea Shepherd is conducting a campaign of outright destruction and terrorism. We have serious concerns that someone will be injured or killed in its destructive terrorism.”

“Sea Shepherd is not an environmental group. It is a terrorist vigilante group that operates outside of the law. Their two vessels are currently sailing flagless after England and Belize didn’t want to be associated with eco-terrorism and de-registered them,” Dr Hatanaka said.

As for Watson:
Mr Watson said today the Farley Mowat was almost out of fuel and he was considering giving the Japanese whaling ship, the Nisshin Maru, a "steel enema" by ramming it.

Mr Watson said his boat was now seen as a pirate vessel, and he would rather lose it in defence of whales than to bureaucrats.
We can only keep our fingers crossed that none of the ICR crew come to harm because of this outrageous behavior.

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Hype and Harpoons

An editorial that is heavily critical of Chris Carter's "irritatingly preachy sanctimoniousness" can be found at The Press.

I largely concur.

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JARPA II 2006/2007 Update #18

The Nelson Mail ran an editorial in relation to the request for medical assistance for a stricken whaler from Japan to the New Zealand government:

Conservation Minister Chris Carter, an outspoken whaling opponent, says New Zealand helped "because that is the Kiwi way" but he could equally have said that it is the way of decent people everywhere.

... it is also right not to provide the whaling fleet's location to others. In particular, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is showing a fanatical zeal in its efforts to prevent whales being killed.

New Zealand's case would not be strengthened by showing these campaigners where to harass the whalers and put their own and Japanese lives in danger.

It's always heartening to see level-headed opinion like this example coming out of the New Zealand media.

Paul Watson still just doesn't get it:
Apparently, helping conservationists oppose illegal whaling is not the Kiwi way.
People sailing unregistered vessels fitted with "hydraulic can opener" weaponry and issuing threats of ramming other vessels on the high seas will always struggle to find support from civilized governments, even if they try to claim the noble cause of conservation as their objective. Sea Shepherd's true goal is not conservation, but individual whale protection. The conservation of biodiversity on the other hand is a goal which is mutually compatible with sustainable use. And even the New Zealand government recognises that Japan's activity is not "illegal".

Andrew Darby also provides an update. As I mentioned in my own previous update, Sea Shepherd will probably be departing the Ross Sea sometime this week to refuel. It sounds like this is about to eventuate:
... after nearly five weeks in polar waters, the hardline activists of Sea Shepherd are set to leave the Antarctic without having found their quarry, and now are pleading with Australia to let their "pirate" ships land here.

... with fuel running low and claims that the Japanese have used satellites to spy on them, Sea Shepherd are in trouble with shipping authorities


Captain Watson said the New Zealand Government had told him that as an unflagged vessel, the Farley Mowat would be arrested if it arrived there. He is asking for a guarantee that the ships and their crews will not be arrested if they come to Melbourne.


Captain Watson said he was convinced the whalers were using commercially available satellite surveillance data to track and avoid the Sea Shepherd vessels.

But a spokesman for Tokyo's Institute of Cetacean Research, Glenn Inwood, blamed Sea Shepherd's problems on poor seamanship.


[Watson] said it was interesting that New Zealand would help a sick whaler but banned an anti-whaling ship, even when it carried New Zealand citizens. "The authorities said we would be arrested and detained if we attempt to enter a New Zealand port." He said a meeting today between NZ customs and Maritime New Zealand would decide Sea Shepherd's fate.

In Canberra, the Transport Department confirmed it was having discussions about the Robert Hunter.

"They are canvassing options," a department spokesman said. "At this stage it is not an application."

Captain Watson said the case was also being considered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

No more Sea Shepherd for this season, and I'd not be surprised if this is the last we ever see of them in the Antarctic. They've simply taken things too far with their threats of violence.

Meanwhile ...
Greenpeace's Dutch-registered ship, Esperanza, was yesterday picking its way through the Antarctic sea ice, and spokeswoman Sara Holden said they were still confident they would find the whalers within days.
That's it for this week.


Sea Shepherd now claim that they have found the whaling fleet. Who knows what last ditch attempt at madness they will attempt.

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Japanese article on IUCN response to latest Western Gray Whale entanglement

As I reported a few weeks back, a 4th Western Gray Whale unfortunately died when it became entangled in a set fishing net off the coast of Iwate. The IUCN picked up on it a week later, issuing this news release.

Yomiuri Shinbun's "Sports Hochi" has subsequently reported the IUCN response in the Japanese media in this article, which notes the general points (no time to translate, sorry - maybe later).

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500th post

This is apparently the 500th post here on my blog. I hope that they are getting better. Many of those 500 are not actually published yet - I've got a whole load of draft posts waiting around, perhaps one day to be completed.

Here's a world map of my last 100 or so hits:

Obviously, most of the world doesn't care about what I have to say (indeed most of the world doesn't care about whaling), but it seems I have a special ability to excite the Europeans. Hello there, Europeans!


JARPA II 2006/2007 Update #17 - NZ provides aid to whaler

Today's update starts with a big bravo to the New Zealand government.

I've been critical of Chris Carter in the past on whaling policy details, and will probably continue to be critical as long as the New Zealand government's policy does not change. Nonetheless, this season New Zealand has acted as a responsible world citizen, firstly by refusing to provide the co-ordinates of the ICR whaling fleet to protest groups for safety reasons, and now secondly, in making medical assistance available to a crew member on board one of the whaling ships who fell ill:
New Zealand Enables Medical Aid To Japanese Whaling Crew Member
12:34 pm, 04 Feb 2007

New Zealand has enabled medical aid to be given to a crew member of the Japanese whaling fleet who fell gravely ill in the Southern Ocean, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

"The crew member is now receiving medical attention in New Zealand following an urgent request for assistance from the Japanese whaling fleet," Mr Carter said.

"Despite New Zealand's strong opposition to Japan's whaling activities, and our diplomatic efforts to bring a halt to them, we do have a responsibility as a nation to act in a humanitarian way. A person's life was at risk. Under the international law of the sea, New Zealand could not ignore a call for help from a ship operating in an area of sea where New Zealand has responsibility for search and rescue.

"The crew member was delivered by ship to the edge of New Zealand's territorial waters late last week and transported ashore in a New Zealand helicopter," Mr Carter said.

"At no time did any vessel from the Japanese whaling fleet cross New Zealand's 12 mile territorial boundary, and nor has the New Zealand government provided any fuel or supplies to the Japanese fleet. All the costs of the crew member's transport and treatment will be paid for by Japan.

"I stress again that New Zealand's opposition to whaling is unchanged. There is no need to kill whales in order to study them. New Zealand will continue to bring diplomatic pressure to bear on Japan encouraging it to drop its scientific whaling programme.

"We have helped in this case because that is the Kiwi way," Mr Carter said.

So as I said, Bravo to the New Zealand government.

It is unfortunate however that NZ's Conservation Minister finds himself releasing such a defensive comment explaining and justifying the action to the public. Surely no sensible person would criticise New Zealand or any other nation for taking such a responsible "humanitarian" action in such circumstances? (Hold that thought anyway, as this news has only just broken... you never know)

Another small question mark I have is why the Conservation Minister has found himself conducting media conferences in relation to video footage taken by RNZ Air Force aircraft, and now releasing this statement on medical assistance. I'm no expert in portfolio matters, but surely both these issues would more appropriately have been handled by the Defence Minister. Chris Carter wasn't Defence Minister last time I checked.

Best wishes to the stricken Japanese crew member...

UPDATE 17:45 PM: According to a Monsters and Critics article the crew member had a "a life-threatening gastric condition", and NewstalkZB reports that "he is suffering from acute intestinal problems and requires intensive care."

* * *

In other recent news, a post at Greenpeace's "ocean defenders" weblog reminiscent of now sacked Australian Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, raised an eyebrow. "Sara" from Greenpeace, while stressing that ...
Greenpeace does not work with Sea Shepherd ...
... complained about the British authorities' move to strike the new Sea Shepherd vessel, the Robert Hunter, off their register:
... it would seem they are happy to actively help the Japanese government de-flag a vessel that has not been involved in any criminal activity.

For years Greenpeace has campaigned to get governments, including the UK and Canada to de-flag vessels that are illegally fishing or polluting. I can't begin to tell how often we are told how difficult it is to take action and it most certainly can't be done without physical evidence of a crime being committed. How then, can the Robert Hunter be so quickly dispatched?

This is blatant hypocrisy. Mr. Blair - stop de-flagging vessels that have no criminal history ...
Perhaps one of Sara's more mature and level-headed crew mates ought to sit her down and whack it into her head why Greenpeace has a purported policy of not working with Sea Shepherd.
One would hope that not all the Greenpeace crew have such a lack of ability to think things through objectively.

Incidentally, the Scotsman tells a different story to Captain Watson:
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ... said the UK was acting on a request by Tokyo after its flagship, the Farley Mowat, was deregistered by Belize.


However the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency said Japan had not influenced the decision, which was made because the vessel's activities did not conform with its status as a pleasure vessel on the register.


David Wright, the UK Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, said the Robert Hunter's activities with Sea Shepherd are "inconsistent with her status as a pleasure vessel".

"The registrar general therefore took the decision to remove her from the register. I was made aware of these activities by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office," he said.

I personally will take the UK Registrar General on his word, rather than put my faith in Captain Watson.

The Scotsman article also has a nice summary of international law:

• THE United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets out the duty of all countries to "co-operate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas".

Piracy is defined as "any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or private aircraft, directed against another ship or aircraft or the people and property on board".

A vessel is considered to be a "pirate ship" simply if the people in charge intend to commit any of the above acts or have already done so.

Article 105 says: "On the high seas, or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any state, every state may seize a pirate ship or aircraft, or a ship or aircraft taken by piracy and under the control of pirates, and arrest the persons and seize the property on board."

However the convention also says seizing a ship without adequate grounds will make the country liable for any losses or damage.

* * *

Today we are entering what is probably ninth week of research for this season. One assumes that despite the ill crew member, the JARPA II activity has been running smoothly. Assuming normal conditions prevail I would expect that there are at least another five weeks to go, but this is the first season of JARPA II in Area V and the western part of Area VI, so another 40 days at least can probably be expected.

Sea Shepherd will probably be departing the Ross Sea sometime later this week to refuel (unless they decide they want to have New Zealand come and rescue them), which should see the end of them (for this season at least, although I don't think they will ever again have much luck with ship registrations). Late-comers Greenpeace have apparently just entered the Southern Ocean, and will probably need to waste time and fuel if they are to locate the ICR fleet at all. I think they'll need more than just luck to do it. Surely some of their supporters must be asking whether there aren't more productive things to be doing?

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New Japanese Fisheries ODA project in Suriname

Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has news of a new Fisheries ODA project in Suriname.

Suriname was originally colonised by the Dutch, but gained independence in 1975. It appears that Netherlands still enjoys pulling strings there however:
The Dutch relationship continues to be an important factor in the economy, with the Dutch insisting that Suriname undertake economic reforms and produce specific plans acceptable to the Dutch for projects on which aid funds could be spent. In 2000, however, the Dutch revised the structure of their aid package and signaled to the Surinamese authorities their decision to disburse aid by sectoral priorities as opposed to individual projects. Although the present government is not in favor of this approach, it has identified sectors and is now working on sectoral analyses to present to the Dutch.
It is attempting to broaden its economic base, establish better contacts with other nations and international financial institutions, and reduce its dependence on Dutch assistance.
* * *

Japan's history of assistance to Suriname appears to go back quite some way, with Fisheries ODA activity alone having occurred in 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000, and most recently 2004. The projects in 1994, 1998 and 2000 all involved improvement of facilities at the Paramaribo central market.

This new project for the "Construction of Small-Scale Fisheries Center in Paramaribo" will see the provision of up to 817 million yen (6.7 million USD) in Grant Aid.

According to the MOFA news release, the fisheries industry of Suriname contributes 5% to GDP, and with around 5000 workers accounts for 3.2% of the total working age population. Paramaribo, the capital city, is the nations largest fisheries base, with approximately 16,000 tonnes landed there according to 2004 statistics, and an annual landings of shrimp and sea bream amounting for 10,000 tonnes. On the other hand, while small scale fishing boats land around 6,000 tonnes of mainly catfish and small shrimps each year, there are apparently no public facilities for landings by these vessels. Switching into my best-effort translation mode (this also from the MOFA release):
It is with this background that Suriname applied to our country for Grant Aid in support of the "Construction of Small-Scale Fisheries Center in Paramaribo" project that, through the construction of a functional landing facility (landing wharf, ice making, ice storage, gear repairs, etc) at the west bank of Paramaribo's Suriname river, aims to improve operational efficiency, production volume, and quality assurance.

It is expected that the execution of this plan will contribute to a strengthened economic platform through the reduction in the amount of time required for small scale fishing boat preparations and landings, the achievement of increased trust in product quality for both domestic and export markets, market expansion, the promotion of small scale fisheries, and the acquisition of foreign exchange.
But, despite all of that apparently some reports wondered whether this is a "bribe" for a vote at the IWC. Suriname joined the IWC in July 2004, many years after it's first receipt of ODA from Japan, but nonetheless, the story has been reported in several western news outlets. Here's the Caribbean News Net's article:
PARAMARIBO, Suriname: Japan and Suriname on Wednesday have signed an Exchange of Notes to construct a small-scale fisheries centre in Paramaribo. Japan granted US$7 million for the construction.

Responding to questions from reporters, minister Lygia Kraag-Keteldijk denied that the donation was a favour from Japan in exchange for Suriname's vote to resume commercial whaling at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in May. Japan is pro-whaling, maintaining that whaling is a one of its national traditions.

Suriname and the other CARICOM nations have constantly sided with Japan and other pro-whaling nations and voted to end the moratorium on commercial whaling at last year's IWC meeting.

“This project fits within the framework of the cooperation between the two countries. It has nothing to do with the whaling issue,” argued minister Kraag-Keteldijk. Japan, along with a number of countries, including Norway, Nicaragua and Iceland, advocates the lift of a 20-year-old ban, while other nations, including Brazil, Spain, Chile and Peru are against.

Japan’s consul Kiyoshi Takeuchi stated that “the main objective of this project is to improve the working environment for artisanal fishermen and assure and upgrade the quality of their products while ultimately aiming at maintenance and encouragement of sustainable fisheries”. Takeuchi further noted that the fishing industry in Suriname “holds great export potential”.

Jagdies Bhansing, director of Suriname's ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, stated that in 1992 Japan had already financed a similar fishing centre in Suriname. According to director of Fisheries, Jaswant Sathoe, Suriname in 2006 exported US$ 40 million of seafood products to the United States, Europe and Japans. It is expected, he said, that with the new centre the fishery exports will increase.
Good luck to the fishermen of Suriname with this new project.

* * *

The Nichigo Press, based in Australia, has an opinion piece (in Japanese) from Nikkei's Sydney correspondent on the situation in the South Pacific, where tensions between "big bullies" Australia and New Zealand and their smaller island neighbours have recently been coming to the fore. A section of the article mentions Pacific Island nation support for whaling at the IWC. Again, with my best effort translation:
... The reason these small nations support Japan at the IWC, even though doing so makes them enemies of Australia and the European heavyweights, is not to receive Japan's aid. It's because they believe that superpower-led nature protectionism threatens the survival of their nations.

The movement behind the whaling ban will eventually spread to dolphins, turtles, and tuna. "Dolphins and tuna have traditionally been important sources of nutrition", points out a foreign diplomat of one island nation. This official says that the expansion of the whaling ban to other species will "lead to impediments to securing nutrition for our people". If the existence of the main industry of fishing is threatened, "our entire economy may no long be able to continue".

The anti-whalers of Australia say that instead of whales and dolphins, people simply need eat beef. Yet how can an island nation having had it's fishing industry, a source of foreign currency, stolen away from it expect to pay for beef? Saying that they will be provided with sufficient aid amounts to telling them that they are to become subordinate states. The posture of support for Japan at the IWC by such island nations is ladled with the bitter anguish of dignified independent states...
A lack of respect for the world's island and developing nations from the self-righteous anti-whaling NGOs of the western superpowers and their willingly gullible supporters is certain to keep them blind to the true reasons for the positions taken by those nations. To my mind, the offensive and disrespectful anti-whaling NGO "votes for sale" allegations, while successful in stirring up irrational emotions amongst western donors, are likely to continue to serve more benefit to the pro-sustainable use movement over the medium to long term, rather than their own.

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Fisheries ODA in Honduras

UPDATE 2007/02/03 - I started this article translation late last year, and have finally gotten around to finishing off the second half of it today.

Japan's National Research Institute of Fisheries Science (NRIFS), Fisheries Research Agency has an article describing a Fisheries ODA "mini-project" in Honduras in during 1990's. My best-effort translation is as follows, below:

Honduras small scale fishing promotion and fisheries related official development assistance (ODA) - Yukio Tasaka

The country of Honduras lies in the middle of the narrow strip of land that connects the Northern and Southern American continents, facing the Caribbean Sea. It is not a country that we are used to hearing about frequently, but as of recently a large number of Japanese technical experts reside in the country in relation to a variety of official development assistance projects. Amongst them, since 1991 a new fisheries project that challenges the concept of Japan's fisheries related official development assistance (ODA) policy is underway. "Model Peska", as that undertaking is called, is a small scale project focused solely on the Trujillo region in the central northern area of Honduras. Amongst the Japanese it is called a "Mini project". However, the tide of fisherman systematization that took root there is currently spreading throughout the rest of the country, and is changing the whole fisheries industry of Honduras. As a specialist in distribution and distribution facilities for fisheries, I received the opportunity to lead the operation in 1995 in relation to Honduras' northern coastal small scale fisheries promotion and planning study. Here, while introducing the "Mini project" in Honduras, I will describe the order of business of our country's Fisheries ODA.

1. The mini-project and the budding of the fishermen's movement

The fishing industry of Honduras, which accounts for approximately 14% of the total value of exports, is valued as a source of protein for Hondurans. At the same time, there are also promotion targets in terms of food security and acquiring foreign exchange. However, while production methods including gill nets, traps, and seines are used in some areas, most small scale fishermen employ hand line fishing methods from canoes without outboard motors. Due to the inefficient fishing method, undeveloped distribution systems and storage technology, fishing activity has stagnated, and the approximately 8,000 fishermen (mainly consisting of Garifuna and Miskito peoples) live in poverty. Also, fishing operations are unstructured, without even the concept of fishing rights. There is no attitude of putting a portion of the landings into savings and planning for the modernization of production methods. One cannot help but get the impression that the people are living just one day at a time.

What such fishermen as these ask of ODA is outboard motors, power-driven vessels, and landing facilities such as cold stores and ice makers.

This tendency is not limited to Honduras but common in developing nations, where there is a background of developed nations offering ODA in the form of material provisions. However, materials alone have often been provided without appropriate transfer to the recipient nation of the various skills incidental to the uptake of those materials. As such, one problem with existing ODA is that there are considerable numbers of cases where the material provisions have been abandoned due to breakdowns or situations where they could not be operated sufficiently. Honduras is no exception. While in the past power-driven vessels and freezing facilities have been provided by the EC, Taiwan, etc., the recipients were not able to master the use of these items, and they have been left to rust away on the foreshore (Photo 1). Even still, the fishermen expect the provision of materials as the means to escape from poverty, and a tendency to take the provision of these items for granted is evident. In response, for the "mini project" that started in the Trujillo region, the first step was to gain the trust of the locals by having technical specialists dispatched from Japan firstly integrate themselves into the fishermen's society. Next, the fishermen were taught about the merits of cooperating together in conducting fisheries activities, and the wives were taught to put to use items with no associated costs, for example by making souvenirs out of shells that they had been throwing away. Also, through the thorough teaching of skills to manage the freshness for marine products, there was even success in raising quality to levels such that American brokers came to recognise the products as fit for export to the USA (Photo 2). As a result of the project's execution, the sales price for the catch increased by almost double.
Another goal of the operation was to improve the everyday lives of the fishermen by promoting savings, and a compulsory savings scheme putting aside 15% of the money from the landings was created. As a result, the everyday lives of the fishermen improved significantly, and eventually with the fishermen's capital alone, fishing equipment storage facilities and a pier were constructed (Photo 3). Also, the Honduras Fisheries administration's Trujillo branch conducted training sessions (with around 4,000 participants), including bookkeeping and outboard motor skills. This made possible the repair of fishing gear and boats as well as sales management within the district, and along with the organization of fisheries, the groundwork for receiving technical assistance was complete.

2. Expansion to a nationwide movement, and Japan's role

The Mini-project did not plan to simply promote the fisheries industry. An additional characteristic of the project was that reform of the fishermen's society and improvement of gender issues were also in-scope. In fact, with the stabilisation of their livelihoods, the fishermen's expressions brightened, and set off positive effects in the fishing village community. Further, one might say that true technological transfer to the fishermen, which other nations had not been able to achieve, was made possible through the reform movement of the fishermen's society. After this, a fishermen's representative of the Trujillo region independently, and at his own expense, travelled across the country advocating the need for organization of fishing activity to other fishermen, which led a high level of interest from other region's fishermen in the Mini-project. This makes one realise what had been lacking in previous efforts to that attempted to transfer technological know-how to small scale fishermen.

It was in light of this heightening movement amongst fishermen that saw the Honduras government apply in 1993 to our country for grant assistance and development investigations with the aim of developing their fishing industry. Assistance commenced in 1994 based on this application, and it is this project that I am now participating in. The skeleton of the project consists of 3 components; (1) Development project based in 6 regions in the west of the country, (2) Development investigations in the lesser-developed eastern area of the country (the Gracias a Dios department) where the topography features many marshes and swamps, and (3) assisting the Honduras side with their master plan for all regions along the Caribbean sea coast. The aim is to expand the Mini-project that has taken root in the Trujillo region throughout all regions of Honduras, and make for the nationwide organization of fishermen, who are the recipients of technical support.

The assistance projects have seen us visiting regions that the Honduras government had selected as candidates for fishing industry development bases, and holding meetings with local fishermen. We exchanged opinions with the fishermen at these meetings covering (1) what is required by Honduras' fishing industry today, (2) what does "organization" entail, (3) topics regarding the form of fishing village societies, (4) distribution topics, (5) how the domestic market should be developed, and the role of the fishermen in this, and finally (6) that the organization of fishermen and fishing village development projects are those of the Honduras government, and that Japan's role is in supporting and assisting the Honduras government's direction (that Japan is not simply going to provide Honduras fishermen with material items). We have held as many as 10 such meetings, which have on occasion seen us continue discussions amongst the banana and palm trees to the sound of waves until past 10 pm in the evening. At the outset, some fishermen left the meetings the instant that they realised that the assistance would not see them provided with equipment, but many fishermen participated enthusiastically in the discussions. There was an occasion when a fishermen came pushing through to the entrance of the charter craft to voice his opinion to us. Also by coincidence, in the second year of the investigation project, I found myself inside the craft with a Miskito woman who had participated in a meeting one year earlier. She spoke passionately about her aspirations for the project and how, as a woman, she was participating in the activity.

There is tendency to overlook how to evaluate technical assistance in smaller nations. Certainly the Mini-project in Honduras, which started out as a meager activity in a single area, was never likely to become the subject of praise. However, the effort put into the reforms of the livelihoods of those fishermen was recompensed, and the movement is now being carried on by the Honduras fishermen.

The Honduras "Mini-project" will continue to live on inside me as the "Big project" that taught us what was lacking in past Fisheries ODA efforts, and what the role of assistance donors will be in future efforts,
(We hear a lot of allegations of "vote buying" at the IWC in relation to Japan's Fisheries ODA from western anti-sustainable use NGOs. Honduras has never been a member of the IWC.)

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