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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 inventory update - August 2009

Another delay on my part, but once again here's your monthly (August 2009) update for whale meat inventory statistics from Japan's Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries.

As I alluded to last time, I was unable to put these up sooner as I took a jaunt down to the Philippines. It was smashing - did some snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, plus enjoyed some local cuisine. Best mangoes I've ever had in my life (don't eat mangoes often, but still they were amazing). More on this another time maybe.

Here's the update:

August Statistics

Volume (tons)

The figures speak for themselves, it was a busy month with the incoming volume for an August being a record in the history I have on this going back to 2001, and 16% higher than in the prior-year period. The bulk of this seemingly was from the offshore component of the ICR's JAPRN II programme conducted in the western north pacific, which drew to a close at the end of July. Presumably it wasn't until August that by-product meat from this programme hit storage facilities. The ICR press release noted that bad weather hindered the programme this year in the northern sectors of the research area, and as a result only 43 minke whales were taken versus a planned sample size of 100, however for Sei (100) and Bryde's (50) whales, the planned number of whales were caught. Only 1 sperm whale was caught from the 10 permitted.

This additional product, while reflected in the inventory figures, will likely not be going on sale until November, judging by the sequence of events last year. The ICR will probably put out another release shortly, giving a break down of the by-products that they will be putting on sale.

Meanwhile, the outgoing volume figure was also the most for an August since 2002, however only 3% higher than the August 2008 figure. The July 2009 figure had also been the lowest in 5 years, so a somewhat stronger figure in August was not so unexpected.

On a net basis, total inventory was boosted up to 5288 tons, the bulk of which is held in Tokyo storage facilities. The last time inventory was so high was back in the summer of 2006, however in that year inventory peaked in April at a much higher level, just short of 6000 tons. As for August 2009, the outgoing figure was a 25% increase versus the prior month, and again 31% higher than the same time a year ago. While demand for whale products (as indicated through the outgoing volume figures) appears softer this year than prior to the global economic crisis, on the supply side the amount of incoming volume has actually been greater in 2009 than any year except the bumper 2006 year, which is also contributing to the increasing inventory levels.

This situation of relatively high inventory levels is not likely to change over the next few months, due to the additional 1500 tons of Icelandic fin whale products reportedly set for import into Japan. The exact timing of the related transactions does not seem to be clear yet however.

Top Regions

Stockpile size at
month end
Stockpile size at
previous month end
Tokyo city wards3,4752,512+963

The bulk of the incoming and outgoing volume for the month appears to have occurred in Tokyo storage facilities, with a net 963 ton gain.

Outgoing stock (cumulative)

Incoming stock (cumulative)

Monthly volumes

Annual volumes

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speed s

I've seen many whale restaurants here in tokyo, and i think the govt doesn't prohibit or at least regulate any whale huntings...
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