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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 - June 2008

I'm kicking off this post with a visual of a whale meat stockpile. The picture to the right of text shows the stock level of a canned whale meat product, "Yamatoni", at my local supermarket.

I was surprised to find this in the canned seafood section a month or so ago. Ever since I've been frequenting it they have been stocking whale meat bacon (similar to this product, but in a smaller size quantity), and last year they had red whale meat sashimi on sale for a time as well. Recently another whale bacon product also appeared as a seemingly seasonal offering, but the canned Yamatoni product pictured also appears to be a regular that I simply had never noticed.

I was also surprised to see an instant meal type Whale Curry (Japanese style) at a nearby 7-11 convenience store. That was also seemingly a temporary summer offering, although I've not been back since to be able to confirm that. My surprise was because I seemed to recall some western anti-whaling group saying they had intimidated Ito-yokado (owner of the 7-11 chain) into no longer stocking whale products in their stores. Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick, but anyway.

Enough digression - MAFF's "Statistics on Distribution of Frozen Fishery Products", including whale meat stockpile information for June was released some days back (PDF, Excel).

Not much happened on the stockpile front in June. The obvious major event for the month was IWC 60 in Chile, but coverage in Japan was quite limited with not much headline news coming out of it. Other events included:
The Greenpeace theft news was covered a lot in the news, but not much happened that would bring about significant changes in the stockpile situation. Indeed, as much as 2,000 tons of the stockpile was also still unavailable for sales at the time, and additionally, whale meat dealers were waiting for the commencement of the JARPA II by-product auction in early July to get the newest product into stock from the wholesale markets.

As for last month's mysterious 318 ton stockpile in Funabashi that appeared, it's hard to be certain of the source as the JARPA II meat appeared to be accounted for in the jump in Tokyo stockpile figures for April. Anti-whaling group WDCS recently wrote a little of their own speculation about the activities of Norwegian whaling vessels in relation to matters surrounding whale meat trade.

June 2008 outgoing stock: 314 tons

Not much this month, but next month will be a bumper for sure.

June 2008 incoming stock: 254 tons

No unusual leaps in stock this month.

June 2008 end-of-month stockpile: 3,630 tons
Just a slight dip this month. As noted above, a large chunk of this is confirmed as not being for sale as of June. The JARPA II by-product sale runs from early July through early August, so expect a significant drop in the figure in the next update for July.

June 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 wards2,028

Well, that Funabashi stockpile looks to be static to me. It will be interesting to see how much of it was still there at the end of the July month, after the JARPA by-product auction has largely completed.

Graph: Annual volumes
Half the year gone, and obviously things are looking more subdued than in the recent couple of years, with lower levels of stock at present. The stockpile tends to be more active in the second half of the year as is evident in the cumulative graphs below.

Graph: Monthly volumes

Graph: Outgoing stock (cumulative)
The 2008 worm is down a bit, but the trend in most years seems to be a slightly higher average outgoing volume of stock over the last 6 months of the year as compared with the first 6 months.

Graph: Incoming stock (cumulative)
Evidently, less stock around this year compared with 2006 and 2007. If it weren't for that Funabashi meat, 2008 would be looking much like 2005.

Graph: Regional whale meat stockpiles

* * *

July 2008 figures will be out on September the 10th.


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