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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



Minke whale tonight

I went to another local restaurant for dinner this evening, and ordered a standard "Katsudon" bowl meal, basically fried pork cutlets and egg on top of rice.

The restaurant staffers, a friendly elderly couple, know that some of the other regulars in the area and myself enjoy a whale fest together from time to time, and very once in a while they serve whale sashimi on their own menu themselves. I guess I've had it there a couple of times, and I remember that the operator of the nearby Lawson convenience store himself is a whale fan and always asks them to save a portion for him.

Anyway tonight after starting on my Katsudon order, the master suddenly blinked as he remembered - "oh hey, we have minke whale on the menu today"

I hadn't checked the daily part of the menu they have up posted up on the wall in the shop, but indeed they did. The restaurant is small with 5 counter seats and two cramped tables seating another 4, but it was uncharacteristically empty tonight (at least when I arrived) so I snapped some pictures:

Of course I added the whale sashimi (600 yen) to my Katsudon order:

I chatted with the master briefly about it and he said that today (at least) they were selling the minke sashimi at cost price, no profit. 600 yen for 6 slices does seem like a good deal as far as minke sashimi goes. He also said that minke whale is "not usually available", where ever it is he gets it in from.

I'm not familiar with what goes on in distribution, but perhaps the sashimi products that he gets are from the coastal research whaling ops that are conducted up off Sanriku (and Kushiro later in the year). This would explain why he isn't able to serve whale sashimi normally, if it is fresh product that hasn't been frozen. There is of course frozen whale meat inventory from the offshore research whaling, but the sashimi tonight was soft without a trace of being frozen that the tongue could detect.

They were also pleased that the "head Sea Shepherd guy has been arrested" (well, they hadn't quite got the details right, but obviously the Sea Shepherd fiasco has been big news here).

The master also said "I heard that there's a plan to permit Japan to catch minke whales in our coastal area again". I told him that I've heard of this too, but added that I think the negotiations don't stand chance of success. The Japanese print media has been running stories about this, and the Minister (Mr. Akamatsu) has been positive towards the plan in some respects, but the reality is that there is not a snowball's chance in hell that Japan will be able to negotiate a deal that will be acceptable. E.g., Akamatsu wants to negotiate to get a quota of more than the proposed 200 abundant Antarctic minkes a year, whereas the anti-whaling nations are only interested in negotiating towards a catch quota of 0 abundant Antarctic minkes a year.

* * *

In relation to that, former Japan Commissioner to the IWC, Masayuki Komatsu has also been reported in the media criticising the IWC proposal. He reportedly said that "there is a big problem with them trying to legalize the commercial whaling moratorium for another 10 years".

A good point. Komatsu has in the past noted that he looks forward to the day when the IWC's issue can be sorted out in a court; this plan would see his hopes dashed for 10 years.

Komatsu was also on radio recently, saying that there are 3 problems with the new IWC proposal:
1) It ignores science
2) It ignores law (International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling)
3) It shows no consideration for nations supporting sustainable use.

Point number 2 is it for me. The reason we get these strange ideas that everyone can't agree with coming out the IWC is because there is no agreement on policy (described in the ICRW). But why don't we have a policy agreement, since all these IWC contracting governments have supposedly adhered to the ICRW?

The answer is simple - because a bunch of them are not adhered to the ICRW in good faith. This is the root problem and until it is resolved one way or the other, the IWC isn't serving it's purpose and is useless.


So now you are eating whale that was caught outside the quota. Nice.... At least poeople who thought the only whales caught were those declared on quota's can now see how wrong this is. There needs to be an investigation into these claimed bycatch. If you disagree you obviously prefer to eat meat which potentially is from an illegal source.
"caught outside the quota"

huh ???
JARPN has quotas...
My guess is that our dear Anonymous doesn't know about JARPN2 because his/her only source of information is Sea Shepherd.

Since Sea Shepherd purposedly don't talk about JARPN2 (because Fatson and co. can't do the same dangerous stunts in the Northwestern Pacific without being arrested), there's no chance their fanboys can know about these legal quotas.
Anonymous, already two others have pointed out your misunderstanding, but here's some extra info.

1) Here are the catch records for the Western north pacific whaling programme, including the research whaling activities off Sanriku.


This is ICRW Article VIII research whaling as well, entirely legal and backed by the Government of Japan. Like with the JARPA programme meat by-products, the by-products from these programmes in the Western North Pacific must also be sold, not wasted.

2) Whale by-catch in Japan can also legally be processed and sold. The alternative, to somehow dispose of the whale is costly and there is often plenty of good meat on these animals which would otherwise go to waste. It also helps to compensate the fishing net owner for damage that the whales can do to the fishing net when they get caught.

I have other posts about such by-catch incidents, if you are interested.
Kujirakira/isanatori the first Anonymous (not me) was obviously talking about by-catch NOT JARPN2.
No, Kujirakira and isanatori were right. I was wrong to say that this was whale that was caught outside the quota.
I'll shut up now before I say something else as stupid...
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