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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 and tuna inventory levels

I've had a couple of comments from an anonymous poster (here and here) claiming that (quote) "no one" wants to eat minke whale meat, with consumption having (quote) "gone through the floor".

I had just posted pictures of the minke whale dishes that we'd eaten at a local restaurant in the very post that one of these Anonymous comments came to, so the comments struck me as being quite bemusing. The prior comment had been in response to the completely unrelated story I posted about Greenpeace Japan's allegations of embezzlement by whaling crew being rejected by a panel of 11 randomly selected citizens (confirming the prosecutor's decision not to lay charges due to lack of suspicion). It was as if the Anonymous poster were an anti-whaling Greenpeace fan, desperate to have something to cheer about...

Anyway, one thing I mentioned in the comments was that a Sankei article I saw previously had alluded to levels of bluefin tuna inventory being relatively high despite feared supply shortages, due to the bad economic conditions in Japan. As of the article dated March, there was around 20,000 tons of bluefin tuna in frozen storage, apparently enough to last for a year.

There's a similar situation with whale, which is also regarded as an expensive foodstuff, what with the limitations on supply due to the commercial whaling "moratorium".

I had hoped to find the details of these bluefin tuna inventory figures but the MAFF statistics that I refer to for the whale data doesn't break tuna down into bluefin tuna versus others, unfortunately.

Nonetheless, I did extract the overall tuna figures for 2008 and 2009 to compare with the whale inventory statistics over the same period. The period chosen was purely for convenience - it takes time to go back through the data and pull the necessary bits out, and this is as far as I've done.

Here's a graph of what I've extracted so far:

It is probably difficult to come up with a meaningful comparison of the data on an incoming/outgoing inventory volume basis, given that the "production" and supply features of whale and tuna products are completely different. Nonetheless I think this graph gives an indication of the reality of frozen whale product inventory versus purely commercially produced frozen tuna inventory.

This reminds me that I should also update the Beef, Pork and Whale Stockpiles graph sometime, too.





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