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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 - March 2008

MAFF's "Statistics on Distribution of Frozen Fishery Products" March release came out on the 9th (PDF, Excel).

As it turned out, it was again not such a busy month in March.

The Oriental Bluebird, carrying some amount of frozen whale meat returned to Tokyo on March 29, and last time I assumed this stock would be reflected in these March figures. It seems that this may not have been the case - possibly the stock will be accounted for in the figures in the April release next month, and another possibility is that the meat was stored in a facility by the end of March, but a facility not covered in the survey (some details on the survey specification here). Whale meat landed in Tokyo has generally been picked up in the survey in previous years, but from January 2008 the survey coverage is slightly lower.

The rest of the JARPA II fleet returned to Tokyo in the middle of April, having caught 551 minkes, so that obviously doesn't show up in the March figures below.

March 2008 outgoing stock: 491 tons

Again we had another slight increase on the previous month in March 2008, but only 71% of the value for the same month in 2007. In 2007, there was more stock in store to be shipped out though.

March 2008 incoming stock: 374 tons

My guess is that these 374 tons are not the meat from the Oriental Bluebird. Firstly this figure (which is for the all surveyed regions, not just Tokyo) is quite small. Secondly, as we'll see later, overall the Tokyo region stockpile actually went down for the month, not up, and no other leading regions saw significant increases.

As for the figure itself - lower than for the same month last year - just 18%. This is because the JARPA II fleet returned to port a month early for the 2006/2007 research cruise (see March 2007).

March 2008 end-of-month stockpile: 2,368 tons

Total stock was thus (unexpectedly) down again in March 2008, a 117 ton decrease from the previous month. This puts the stockpile at just 54% of the volume as of the same time last year, but again that's due to the early return of the JARPA fleet last year.

March 2008 top stockpile regions

The top seven stockpile regions, their stockpile levels and movement since the previous month are shown in the table below:

Stockpile size at
month end
Stockpile size at
previous month end
Tokyo city wards390

Hakodate the only real mover there for March, with about a 50 ton drop. Unfortunately these figures when they are issued in their monthly form only detail the top seven locations, so this month especially it's hard to see where stock went in and out. 1,993 tons (84.1%) of the total stockpile figure are accounted for in these top seven regions.

Graph: Annual volumes

Still early days in 2008.

Graph: Monthly volumes

The total stockpile figure dropped to a new low in March.

Graph: Outgoing stock (cumulative)

This graph will be updated next month.

Graph: Incoming stock (cumulative)

This graph will be updated next month.

Graph: Regional whale meat stockpiles

As alluded to above, the stockpile movements for March aren't particularly visible this month.

* * *

April 2008 figures will be out on June 10.


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