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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 - November 2008

A Happy New Year to you!

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries released statistics on frozen marine product stockpiles for November 2008 last week (PDF, Excel), so without further ado let's look at the figures.

November 2008 outgoing stock: 915 tons

A 34% jump in outgoing stock versus the same month in the previous year.

The last four months have seen quite high outgoing stock levels, after a soft patch in the middle of the year.

November 2008 incoming stock: 293 tons

A 15% decrease versus November 2007, but in real terms, not a great drop.

November 2008 end-of-month stockpile: 3,282 tons

With little in the way of new supply in November, a large drop in stockpile versus the previous month. The total stockpile level had been running at a slightly higher level than in 2007 from July through October, but as of the end of November there was no difference versus the previous year.

November 2008 top stockpile regions

The summary of movements in the top stockpile regions:

Stockpile size at
month end
Stockpile size atprevious month endMovement
Tokyo city wards1,5511,869-318

Note that again Funabashi is left with more than 300 tons of stock - this has been the case since earlier this year, with the figure almost static each month. I had been speculating that this meat was related to the Icelandic and Norwegian whale meat imports, although the volume of 300 tons was not consistent with media reports of a much smaller volume of between 60 and 80 tons of meat.

Still, the fact the Funabashi stockpile is static seems to indicate that there is something special about this stock. One thing is for certain is that it's not going to be there forever.

Otherwise, most of the rest of the stocks are now concentrated in Tokyo and Ishinomaki, and these stocks are going to have to keep the whale eaters here in Japan going through until late spring / early summer 2009.

Graph: Annual volumes

With one month left to go in 2008, it appears that both incoming and outgoing volumes for the year will be slightly lower than in the previous year.

Nonetheless, annual outgoing stock volume appears certain to exceed incoming stock volume again in 2008 - a situation which can only push overall stockpile levels to low levels once again.

Graph: Monthly volumes

Graph: Outgoing stock (cumulative)

The high levels of outgoing stock over the last several months are evident enough in this graph.
On the left hand side, the slope of the blue 2008 line is clearly sloping upwards at a greater angle than the lines in other years.
On the right hand side, we can see that the outgoing stock volumes in the second half of the year - since the JARPA 2007/2008 by-product auctions started - has remained rather higher on average than in other years, although in previous years there had been larger spikes in certain months of the year.

Graph: Incoming stock (cumulative)

In incoming stock volume terms, 2008 is almost identical to 2007, just a touch lower.

Graph: Regional whale meat stockpiles

The overall stockpile movement is now largely determined by movements in Tokyo and Ishinomaki, but also note the flat line representing Funabashi's 300 ton stash of mystery meat.

* * *

The December 2008 figures are scheduled for release on the 10th of February


Hi David, great blog. I'm doing some research for a BBC program and am very interested in Japan's whale stockpiles. Be great to get in contact, if you're interested in talking to us let me know and we can figure it out.

Thank you, hope all's well.

Hi Jess,

Thanks for the positive comment.

I suppose as the BBC you are obliged to present both sides of the story, and if you are talking to, for example, Greenpeace about how they interpret the statistics and are looking for a contrary viewpoint, I suggest you contact Japan's Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries directly. They have a department that deals with whaling issues specifically, and another section compiles these statistics for various marine products. Also what you see here sometimes includes my personal speculation, which I'd expect you wouldn't want to make a story out of.

But if you are looking for a compilation of the data that I am graphing, I could provide my MS Excel to you if you give me an email address (I avoid giving mine out due to abuse sorry). Also tonight will be the last chance I have to access my computer before the weekend, so future responses will be slow (busy with real-world stuff lately and this hobby is a bit side-lined).

We're visiting Tokyo on 28th June and initially are just looking for someone who can point us towards who we should be speaking to regarding the stockpiles of whale meat. Perhaps our presenter could meet you for lunch on the 28th for your thoughts? When you suggest contacting Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries directly do you mean the Institute of Cetacean Research?
Look forward to hearing from you via email.

you can reach me at jessica.phillips1@bbc.co.uk

if that fails contact jon.eastman@bbc.co.uk

thanks again,

All the best
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