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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 - April 2008

MAFF's "Statistics on Distribution of Frozen Fishery Products" April edition was released on the 10th (PDF, Excel).

Last time for March we saw that there was no visible impact in the stock statistics due to the docking in Tokyo of the Oriental Bluebird at the tail end of the month, and I had a few guesses for reasons for this.

This month there's no doubt that the "by-product" offloaded from the Nisshin Maru was moved into storage facilities, as the figures below illustrate.

As for the meat from the Oriental Bluebird, it's still not clear as the ICR is yet to announce the total amount of by-product (as of today, but an announcement will probably come out shortly).

* UPDATE: Details of the ICR release are here *

April 2008 outgoing stock: 749 tons

Outgoing stock volume is starting to ramp up a bit more now, these 749 tons representing an 81% higher level than for April 2007.

April 2008 incoming stock: 2,021 tons

This would appear to be the "by-product" from the Nisshin Maru, and as we will see further below, most of this increase (perhaps as much as 1,886 tons) has shown up in the so-called "consumption" area of Tokyo. 135 tons of meat also moved into storage facilities in other so-called "production" regions.

April 2008 end-of-month stockpile: 3,640 tons

The outgoing stock figure of 749 offset the 2,021 tons of incoming stock to result in a figure well below 4,000 tons, even after the Nisshin Maru whale meat hit the stockpile figures.

According to the statistics released, of those storage facilities included in both the April 2007 stats and the April 2008 stats, total volume of whale meat stored was 5% lower in 2008 than in 2007. Recall that changes to the survey this year mean the reported figures aren't exactly comparable, but still, if one regards the survey as indicative then stock levels are lower than at the same time last year.

April 2008 top stockpile regions

The top 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 wards2,115

Tokyo was the big mover this month, with the big increase that we can put down to the Nisshin Maru by-product moving Tokyo back to the number one stockpile region.

Ishinomaki saw a large decrease in it's outstanding stockpile, as did Kushiro.

The other interesting feature this month is the appearance of Kawasaki at position seven. Of the statistics I have for Kawasaki from 2001 to 2005, no stock was ever reported in this region. Kawasaki, like near-by Tokyo, is a so-called "consumption" region. This is definitely an increase for Kawasaki that put it into 7th place (as opposed to a decrease in leading regions), as last month Hakodate rounded out the top seven with 89 tons. Hakodate does not feature in the top seven list this month, so how much stock is there now is unknown at the moment.

Graph: Annual volumes

Things are now starting to shape up in 2008.

Graph: Monthly volumes

Overall stockpile figure is back up again this month, although as noted above, even taking into consideration the change in survey specification, with 5% less in stock this year than at the same time last year.

Graph: Outgoing stock (cumulative)

As we see from this graph, April's outgoing stock figure is the highest on record in recent times.

Graph: Incoming stock (cumulative)

In terms of incoming stock, so far 2008 is shaping up to look very similar to 2005. However, it's possible that not all the JARPA by-product is included in the figures for 2008, so there might be more in reality.

Graph: Regional whale meat stockpiles

* * *

May 2008 figures will be out on July 10.


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