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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 prospects in 2nd quarter 2008

While Japan's stockpile of whale meat hit a 4-year low at the end of February, the low level of stock is likely to jump back to above the 4,000 ton mark once the April month-end figures are released.

Firstly the Oriental Bluebird is said to have returned to port in Tokyo on March 29. This vessel has been employed for refuelling purposes, but also ships some of the whale meat obtained back to Japan. I presume the frozen meat on board the Oriental Bluebird was offloaded into refrigeration facilities in time to be included in the incoming and month-end stockpile figures for the March edition of "Statistics on Distribution of Frozen Fishery Products".

On the other hand, the Nisshin Maru was originally earmarked for a return to port in the southern Kyushu island port of Kagoshima. However, as both English (Reuters) and Japanese (Nikkei, Mainichi, Tokyo Shimbun) language news media are reporting today, the Nisshin Maru is now going to be returning to port in Tokyo, as the Japan Coast Guard and Tokyo Police Department need to conduct investigations into the obstruction incidents that occurred in the Antarctic Ocean in the first few months of the year. The Nisshin Maru is apparently due to arrive in Tokyo on the 15th, so additional by-product meat being returned to Japan via this vessel should probably be reflected in the official stockpile figures from the April edition, to be released in early June.

Additionally, Japan's Fisheries Agency announced on Friday that the first coastal component of the JARPN II programme will commence from today, the 14th, running through until the end of May. The announcement notes that the survey aims at gathering data relating to effects of cetacean feeding on other fisheries resources. The ICR is in charge of the study, which will be conducted in seas around Ayukawa, Ishinomaki city in the north eastern prefecture of Miyagi. 4 catcher boats will be used, and up to 60 minke whales may be caught.The study involves identification of prey species contained within the whales' stomachs, measurement of the volume of stomach contents, and the collection of other biological data. Another vessel is employed as a prey species study vessel, and will cruise along a predetermined survey path, using fishfinding instruments (a bit like this) and trawl nets.

The whale meat by-product that results from this is handled differently to that being brought back from the Antarctic programme, as the data collection will be conducted at a land-station. Some portion of this whale meat is then likely to be sold straight into the marketplace fresh (popular for use as sashimi), but there will probably also be a portion put into frozen storage. So Ishinomaki stock figures may rise in April and May depending on the progress of this programme.

Back to Kagoshima though, the local Minami Nihon newspaper has an interesting report on the side-effect for the regional economy of the NisshinMaru having to return to Tokyo for the investigations of the obstruction activity. The Nisshin Maru is going to be opened up to the public on the 26th and 27th of April at a Kagoshima city port, but with the whale meat now apparently to be offloaded in Tokyo, Kagoshima has lost the economic spinoffs of landing the whale meat, and subsequent distribution. The article notes that in the past the Nisshin Maru has docked in places such as Kanazawa and Yokohama, and have benefited through cargo handling, refrigeration storage fees, and transport fees received for shipping the meat around the country. People in Kagoshima related to the matter had estimated the economic benefit from being the port city as 100,000,000 yen. Nonetheless, the Japan Whaling Association based in Tokyo was committed to having the Nisshin Maru return to Kagoshima after the investigations in Tokyo are complete, and a Kagoshima committee set up to welcome the research fleet to their port is helping to plan the ship open-day event, and also intends to go ahead with some planned primary and middle school whale lunches.

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Pictured, a slice of whale sashimi (photo courtesy of "Yushin", Asakusa)


Damn, that picture looks like a nice piece of meat!
Stay tuned, I've more good photos where that one came from :)

If your browser can navigate through a Japanese webpage, then you might be able to find the menu section on Yushin's homepage. (at the bottom of the page, click on the link to the right of the one that says "TOP", this will take you to the menu section)
Yushin's menues look all so tasty
The restaurant proprietor will be happy to hear it!
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