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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



(Slightly) Historical whale meat stock movement statistics

According to their release last month, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was today scheduled to release the December update of their "Statistics on Distribution of Frozen Fishery Products", however for some reason the data hasn't been made available yet. Presumably it will become available later this week, and I'll blog the whale meat stats from it some time once the figures are available.

However, I found some older statistical data at the Ministry's homepage, so in the meantime I'll introduce it in this entry.

Incidently, I was wondering if there was an official English translation of the statistics (the Japanese title for these statistics is 冷蔵水産物流通統計), and found on their English homepage that the Ministry refers to this information as "Statistics on Distribution of Frozen Fishery Products", so I'll use that myself going forward.

Now then, what are these older statistics I've found?

In recent months, a note was added to the "Other" section at the end of the Japanese PDF noting that the statistical data presented is also available in an annually accumulated format at the Ministry's "General database of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries statistical information", which can be accessed on the Ministry's homepage. The URL for this database is here although the information is all in Japanese (and you are expected to have MS Excel to access the data). It seems that this database has been created around a year ago.

Anyway, the "Statistics on Distribution of Fishery Products Yearbook" (my translation of 水産物流通統計年報) section of the database can be accessed here.

As of the time of this writing, statistical information from years 2001 through 2005 is available. (Click on the year: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005). Data for 2006 and 2007 isn't available here yet, but (almost all of) the same information can be derived from the monthly updates that I have been covering, which are available from February 2004.

Complicating things for me somewhat, the data is presented in a different format to the monthly updates (all broken up into different files for incoming, outgoing, end-of-month volumes, as well as volumes by region), but essentially with all of this in hand it's possible to extend the graphs I have been presenting up until now back as far as 2001. I'll include these older figures in my subsequent monthly updates.

Also, the regional figures in the database are more detailed than those in the monthly updates - there is a stock figure given for all of the regions and towns surveyed, rather than just the top seven. I've taken a rough look at these already, to examine how the data matches up with information (in Japanese) at the ICR's homepage about whale meat by-product sold at auction. Briefly, what I noticed was that after certain JARPA cruises returned to port, it appears as if the full volume of the by-product isn't always reflected in the stock statistics, judging by the volumes reported. One example I found was where it appears the JARPA fleet returned to port in Kochi prefecture, Shikoku, but in this month, the stockpile didn't increase by as much as expected based on the ICR's information. I need to double check, but it appears as if no refrigeration facilities in Kochi prefecture are included in the stockpile survey (the survey covers "major" storage facilities nationwide, not every single one). On the other hand, the figures do reconcile fine when the by-product appears to have been stored in facilities at a major port, such as one case where the JARPA fleet docked back in Japan at Nagasaki. This means that in some time periods the nationwide incoming and end-of-month stock figures for whale meat reported in the survey will have been under representations of the actual situation, but the same would also be true of the outgoing stock figures as well. Overall, it's no reason to not take the survey results as being indicative of the trends in the distribution of whale meat stock, but something worth keeping in mind when looking at fluctuations. I hope to look at this aspect of the survey as it applies to whale meat more in future and detail it here.

Finally, another completely different set of annual statistics is also available which shows the average monthly incoming, outgoing, and end-of-stock volumes for the years 1992 through 2005 (access here). The whale meat figures are in column "AI" of the three excel sheets at this page. I calculated averages for 2006 and 2007 using the monthly updates (only up to November 2007 as of today), and graphed the incoming and outgoing stock monthly averages for these years:

As is evident from the graph, the incoming and outgoing volumes are roughly equivalent in most years, with only 1992 and 2004 providing really significant exceptions. Generally speaking, with retail prices for whale meat still regarded as relatively high, I have the impression that there is potential for even higher levels of consumption if the distribution chain were to have extra product made available to it.

* * *

The whale meat dish at the top of this page was a very tasty offering from Asakusa's Yuushin restaurant. The restaurant's homepage is here. The shop owner kindly agreed to allow me to take some photographs of other items within the shop, and I'll use these in subsequent entries.


Hi David,

It's interesting to see that the incoming and outgoing stockpile are rather similar allover the period from 1992 to 2007. It shows well that the market for whale meat is controlled as the sell of the Japanese research programmes is not for profit.

Hopefully the figures for december 2007 will be released soon and will show that the stockpile is now somewhere 3000 tonnes.

That cheese and whale meat croquette at the Yushin was quite delicious, wasn't it? Let's go there together again. ;)
Hi, David. No comment here in particular, but I have a blog post up that might interest you:


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