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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 - September 2008

UPDATED 11/16: Graphs added

The September update of the MAFF official whale meat stockpile statistics, extracted from their monthly release.

Some days back the ICR put out their regular announcement about meat volumes from the JARPN programme conducted in the western North-Pacific during the Northern summer. The total volume was 1,888.4 tons. 59 Minkes, 50 Bryde's and 100 Sei whales, and 2 Sperm whales were taken this year, and a translation of the table shown in the Japanese release is below (units in tons):

Minke Bryde's Sei Sperm Total
(1) Public use
29.6 67.5 215.1 - 312.2
(2) Market use 143.5 344.0 1,079.6 9.1 1,576.2
Total 173.1 411.5 1,294.7 9.1 1,888.4

This year the auction period runs from November 1 through until the end of January. 20 tons of frozen meat from the coastal component of the JARPN programme will also be sold in the market. 50 tons of fresh product (which wouldn't show up in these stockpile statistics) was also apparently been sold off in traditional whaling towns around Japan.

On the 31st the Nikkei business newspaper reported in their products section that prices for meat would rise on average 6%. Reasons given for this were the obstruction from "nature protection groups" and high fuel costs, and a much lower level of supply.
As for the JARPN by-product itself, the volume was basically the same as last year, but Sei whale red meat prices were raised to 1980 yen per kilo (up 3.1%). Unesu meat, used for bacon, is apparently in strong demand and the top grade product is priced at 3,600 yen this year, a 13% increase. On the other hand, stocks of red meat cuts and chest meat are higher in supply, and prices for these items were adjusted downwards.

If you recall in the previous update, the incoming stock volume was just under 1,600 tons, so there was 300 tons of JARPN product that didn't show up in the stockpile figures in August. We see below that it seems to have appeared in the September figures.

September 2008 outgoing stock: 695 tons

A 51% increase in outgoing stock versus the same month in 2007.

September 2008 incoming stock: 846 tons

Just a 1% increase in incoming stock versus the same month in 2007.

September 2008 end-of-month stockpile: 4,209 tons

A 4% increase on the stockpile size of August, and also a 4% increase on the stockpile size at the same point in time last year.

September 2008 top stockpile regions

The summary of movements in the top stockpile regions:

Stockpile size at
month end
Stockpile size at
previous month end
Tokyo city wards1,997

Obvious enough where the extra JARPN meat went. Funabashi's stockpile had still gone nowhere, but a rumour I heard has it that this meat will finally complete the import procedures within the next month or so - so if the rumour is true then this stock should start moving by the time we see the December figures.

Graph: Annual volumes

As of September, with three months in the year to go, the Incoming stock figure is still 1,000 ahead of the Outgoing figure, but generally Incoming stock levels over the last few months of the year only total around 1,000 tons, where as the Outgoing figures tend to be greater over the last 3 months, maybe looking for a total of 2,000.

This year might also see a little extra supply available however, depending on exactly when the Norwegian and Icelandic import meat starts moving.

Graph: Monthly volumes

Expect the yellow Stockpile line to head sharply southwards in the next several updates, particularly from November when the JARPN II by-product whale meat will go on sale.

As an aside, recent Greenpeace propaganda cites the stockpile volume increase from less than 2,800 tons earlier in 2008 to 4,200 tonnes at the end of September as being indicative of a lack of demand for whale meat. Greenpeace's shame knows no bounds. These are the same types of people who would commit trespass and theft in pursuit of establishing a silly conspiracy theory for their propaganda purposes. Alas, this is the manner in which some people would make a living - they will bear the consequences of this whether they like it or not.

Graph: Outgoing stock (cumulative)

As we approach the end of the year, the blue Outgoing stock line for 2008 appears to now be trending slightly higher than was the case in the latter part of 2007.

The high level of consumption in 2007 was in spite of lower stock in 2007 than 2006 due to the fire accident on board the Nisshin Maru that year, but there was subsequently a low level of stocks left earlier in 2008, as seen above in the Monthly volumes graph.

Outgoing stock was thus confined to a lower level in the early part of the year, but from around the time of the JARPA by-product auction, outgoing stock has geared up to a higher average level.

The previous two years have seen relatively high levels of Outgoing stock over the final months of the year, and I would predict that figures released for the final months of 2008 will also paint a similar story.

Graph: Incoming stock (cumulative)

Incoming stock is interesting in that although JARPN II by-product volumes have been roughly the same for 2007 and 2008, there has been an increase in the incoming stock figure in 2008 for the relevant months.

Graph: Regional whale meat stockpiles

* * *

The October figures will be released on December 12.




Sandy Hollway's latest anti-whaling rhetoric

The other day I introduced Sandy Hollway briefly. This just in the news today (from the Telegraph) from irrelevant Australia's anti-whaling envoy:
"Japan contends that its whaling is for scientific research. Australia simply does not accept this."
Once again, Australia declares publicly that it's good friend and big business partner, Japan is lying. I tend to think the Aussies are fortunate that few in Japan take them seriously where whales are involved. The vice versa is seemingly true as well, but if more Japanese consumers started boycotting Aussie beef things might not seem so rosy.
"Research is important to ensuring the maintenance of healthy whale populations"
Hollway at least recognises this much, yet it's a pity that he doesn't offer any thanks to Japan not only for it's long term JARPA programme in the Antarctic, but also it's major contribution to the IWC's IDCR/SOWER programmes over an even longer period of time. Australia has been requested by the IWC in recent times to offer a vessel to supplement that provided by Japan for the SOWER research cruises, but so far not come to the table. Ironically, despite Australia's purported recognition of science, they did manage to find the cash to send a gunboat to the Southern Ocean last summer to spy on their Japanese friends. Why cash for gunboats and spies, but not cash for research? Only Australian policy makers could tell us the truth, although I think the rest of us can take a good guess.
"but the kind of unilateral and lethal programme being conducted by Japan is not needed."

Hollway confirms with this statement that his mission has already failed (admittedly he already sounded pessimistic when I quoted him previously mentioning that he thinks it would be optimistic to define "success" as a complete cessation of whaling in the Southern Ocean).

Until Australia realises that Japan's scientific interest in the whales is not limited to conservation, but conservation and sustainable use of these incredible natural resources (as a valuable source of food), there is no point in him saying anything at all or holding meetings with his counterparts overseas. Hollway and Australia need to stop talking and do some listening and trying to understand if they want to contribute to a resolution of the issue.

Confirming the possibility that Australia would sue Japan, Mr Hollway added: "The Australian government is considering the legal option, and Japan is aware of this. Australia has also made it clear that we would prefer to find diplomatic rather than legal solutions if we can."

More of the hollow rhetoric that we've heard from the Australians ever since they elected their new government - who said they would be taking Japan to court, when they were in opposition and the realities of international agreements such as UNCLOS and the ICRW were irrelevant to their argumentation.

Hollway's comments in whole (to date) seem to confirm that his appointment was nothing more than a political ploy by the incumbent Australian government to try to appear as if they are going some way to fulfilling their manifesto, rather than a serious effort to affect change. But then, anti-whaling politics in Australia has in recent times been a domestic problem rather than an international one.

* * *

Yesterday in New Zealand a center-right bloc of parties scored a clean majority in the general election, so Helen "whatever Greenpeace says" Clark's anti-whaling government is gone. They have been relatively quiet in recent times anyway, but now that they are in opposition I personally expect to hear more screeching from them as they try to score "Green" points against the new government. The National parties' Nick Smith is suggested as being likely to be given the "conservation" portfolio, which traditionally includes the whaling issue in New Zealand.

But, being a New Zealander and recognising the higher average level of intelligence in New Zealand compared to Australia, I still expect them to be less rowdy and more realistic about this issue than the uppity Aussies from across the ditch (that's the Tasman Sea, to all you North Hemisphereans).



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