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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 2007

Here's the latest update on whale meat stockpiles. The Ministry's figures are here (PDF, Excel).

September 2007 outgoing stock: 486 tonnes

As was the case in August, the September outgoing stock figure is smaller than that for the same month in 2006 - 486 tonnes is 70% of the figure for September 2006.

October also tends to be a slow month, so the figures in the next update may be similar.

September 2007 incoming stock: 825 tonnes

September's incoming stock was 29% higher than for September 2006. Last month the August figures were lower than for August 2006, so over the two months there was probably no great difference.

We'll see below in the regional stockpile figures where all this meat was ending up.

September 2007 end-of-month stockpile: 4,214 tonnes

Overall, tonnage back over 4,000 tonnes for the first time since May, but still lower than at the same point in time last year. 4,214 is 81% of the September 2006 figure.

Graph: Annual volumes

Incoming stock advances ahead of outgoing stock a little this month, but with the November JARPN II auction still to be reflected into these figures, we're likely to see the outgoing stock figure for the year leap ahead of incoming by the year's end.

Graph: Monthly stockpile movements

Incoming stock has probably done it's dash for the year, and it's likely to be all downhill for the stockpile from now until March/April next year. If you look back on the same period for previous years, the green outgoing stock line is always above the yellow incoming stock like over the northern winter months.

Graph: 12-month moving averages

The outgoing stock average looks as if it may have found close to it's potential level under current supply conditions. The incoming stock value is unlikely to move much further up until February / March next year. My guess is that the outgoing average will not be far below 700 tonnes per average month by the time the year is out.

Graph: Regional whale meat stockpiles

Stock supplies are gradually being exhausted in Tokyo, and Ishinomaki is now by far home to the biggest chunk of the stockpile, seemingly being the recipient region of the JARPN II by-product. Meanwhile, you can't see it on the graph, but traditional whale consumption region Nagasaki has made it back into the top 7 stockpile locations at the expense of Kanazawa, which had been at the top of the heap last year. Kushiro is the location with the third biggest stockpile, but Tokyo looks likely to drop below Kushiro to number 3 over the next couple of months.

* * *

October figures are scheduled to be released on December 12.

* * *

In the news, a certain organization claims that:
"Japan has close to 4,000 tons of whale meat ... in cold storage - uneaten, unsold, and unwanted."
The 4,000 tonne figure is right (as of the end of September), but the suggestion that this meat is unwanted seems as if it would be news to the distributers here in Japan.




Early start to JARPN II by-product auction in 2007

Recently I noted that the JARPN II by-product auction has already started this year. The ICR has a Japanese press release on it's website each year announcing this, and until this year, each auction has started in around late November or early December.

In 2007, it started about four weeks earlier than usual, and is only scheduled to last until the end of the month.

The JWA homepage's news section has a reproduction of an article from Japan's top marine products newspaper related to this.

"Western North Pacific research whaling by-product sale brought forward a month - healthy sales, stock shortage see sale start from November", reads the headline.

The article, dated the 19th of October, says that that the by-product sale from the JARPN II offshore research will start a month earlier than normal, from November 1. There had apparently been a series of calls from distributors to bring the auction forward, as sales have been going well. With stock in hand from the previous research almost gone, an early start to the sale was decided. The article notes that the supply from JARPN II in 2007 is approximately equal to that from the previous year's JARPN II programme, about 1,900 tonnes. The breakdown by species was 100 minkes (258 tonnes), 50 Bryde's whales (414 tonnes), 100 Sei whales (1220 tonnes), and 3 Sperm whales (8 tonnes). The portion destined for the market will be on sale from November 1 until November 30.

The article also has info on prices. The price for minke whale is left the same as the price from May (1,990 yen per kilo). Prices for Sei and Bryde's whales were raised 5.6% and 5.2%. Red meat, in plentiful supply, rises in price 20 yen per kilo for Sei whale meat (1,920 yen), but for Bryde's whale a price rise was put off (1,950).

* * *

Indeed sales do seem to be going well. 2007 consumption already appears to be approximately equivalent to consumption from 2005, and that's with only 2/3rd's of the year gone.

With the JARPN II by-product auction having been brought forward, unless consumption slows down, perhaps we may see the 2008 JARPA II auction brought forward as well.



e17 build on debian

More notes for linux users (more specifically enlightenment fans)

On Debian lenny, additional packages that need to be installed to successfully do a ...

1) eet build:
autoconf automake1.7 autotools-dev
libltdl3 libltdl3-dev libtool

2) evas build
libxrender-dev x11proto-render-dev

(also be sure to get this anyway, as e17 requires PNG support):

UPDATE 2008/07/20
(need this to get evas to find Xext when linking... dunno when this changed)

3) e17 build
libx11-dev libxau-dev libxdmcp-dev libxext-dev x11proto-core-dev
x11proto-input-dev x11proto-kb-dev x11proto-xext-dev xtrans-dev

UPDATE: 12/18
... an addition to the e17 build requirements - an optional one. If you want to use the System -> Lock Screen function, you need pam support detected and built in. The debian lenny package that contains this is:

Labels: ,



Whale consumption still driven by private demand (2)

Back in June I did a post illustrating how much of the by-product from Japan's whale research programmes is allocated for public purposes.

The ICR released figures relating to the disposal of the by-product from the 2007 JARPN II program. So here's an update to the graph:

That is, the total by-product made available by Kyodo Senpaku in 2007 will be 4,005.41 tonnes, with 661.3 tonnes (16.5%) of that allocated for public purposes.

The JARPN II by-product auction has in fact already started this year - it's running from November 1 through until November 30 in wholesale markets around the country.

The ICR press release also notes that by-product obtained in the coastal component of JARPN II off the waters of Kushiro (up to 60 minke whales to be taken) is being sold off separately. I believe the reason for this is that the coastal component of the research is currently being conducted using small-scale whaling vessels rather than with Kyodo Senpaku's fleet. The by-product from the offshore component is seemingly frozen before going to auction, where as the meat from the coastal component hits the markets fresh.

This article from the Kushiro Shinbun in September has coverage of the first catch to hit the market. It notes that the meat from this activity is distributed to traditional whale meat consumption centres around the country, with proceeds going towards the research costs. Apparently the meat from the first whale caught each year is allocated on a preferential basis to Kushiro (where the research work is based out of), and 800 kilograms had been distributed into fresh food shops in the area after being sold off through the regional wholesale market there. A shop mentioned in the article that was selling off it's portion for 580 yen per 100 grams had sold out by night fall.



Greenpeace's Great Whale Trail

Greenpeace's Great Whale Trail hit the web recently and got some press coverage.

They seem greatly concerned about protecting themselves against criticism of showing the whalers where the whales are.

There is not much to worry about. For starters I believe this year the fleet is set to operate mainly in the IWC Management Areas III (eastern half) and IV. This is the area south and south-west of Australia, where none of the tagged whales seem to be heading.

Secondly, most of the tags appear to have stopped transmitting positions back to the researchers already, and possibly all of them will have by the time the fleet arrives.

Finally, there are plenty of humpback whales to be found without Greenpeace's assistance.


The "open minded"

TVNZ has a story covering the bunch of foreigners who came out of their way to not only Japan but the small town of Taiji, to protest against a part of the local people's way of life, a historical element that is a significant part of the town and it's people's identity.

Says TVNZ:

The Japanese have been eating dolphin and whale for centuries and some Kiwi punters are open minded about it.

"I'll try a bit of dolphin if it tastes good," says one member of the public.

But others are not as game.

"I'd hate to think that they'd be killed so I can eat them," one person said.

Just a couple of opinions there, but good on the media back home for trying to get a bit more diversity into it's portrayal of opinion than the western mass media usually manages.

* * *

Meanwhile, some days ago a short AFP story was carried at Africasia, but it disappeared rather quickly, and as I can't find it elsewhere I'm going to reproduce it here:
26/10/2007 15:11 LAGOS, Oct 26 (AFP)
Strayed baby whale found dead along Nigeria, Benin border

A baby whale that strayed along Nigeria's sea border with Benin was found dead by dozens of enthusiastic people who carved it up, witnesses said Friday.

The whale, measuring around 12 metres (about 40 feet), was believed to have beached Wednesday night on Nigeria's side of the border town of Seme between the two west African neighbours.

"The animal must have died from helplessness after straying from the sea," a witness told AFP.

He said the crowd went with knives, cutlasses and other sharp objects to have a slice of the dead whale.
Perhaps this story is somewhat indicative of whether people in Nigeria (a non-IWC member) would agree with the western anti-whaling campaigners' oft-pronounced "world opinion" against whaling.

* * *

Kiwis have made the news in the past for eating whale meat (hark back to this very old post).

I've had whale meat with kiwis visiting / staying in Tokyo on at least two occasions that I remember.

Another recent visitor wasn't keen on the idea when I asked whether he was interested.

The nice thing is that while some friends are keen to try it out, and others are not, it's no big deal. Either way, friends are friends, and the idea of such a difference spoiling a relationship so laughable that it seems strange to even write about such a possibility.

Up at the international level, this wonderful trait of decent, mature human behaviour -- mutual respect -- is not the norm as far as issues of cetaceans are concerned, and it's strange when you consider it's significance in the bigger scheme of things.

In the upcoming months we'll probably be hearing much about the ICR's first catch of 50 humpback whales in it's JARPA II programme. Did this have to be the case? Recalling events from IWC 59 this year:

Anti-whaling nations, including Australia, have rejected a compromise deal offered by Japan to scrap its controversial plans to hunt humpback whales in the Antarctic.

Japan proposed to abandon its humpback kill in exchange for Australia's support to allow Japanese coastal communities to kill minke whales.

Another part of the compromise proposal (in full here), was that:
Catches of minke whales under Special Permit in accordance with Article VIII of ICRW will be reduced by (***) animals so that the total take will not be increased by the adoption of this quota. In the western North Pacific, 220 minke whales per year are now being taken as part of the JARPN II program from the same stock that will be exploited by community-based whaling.
Essentially, Australia and it's band of supporters at the IWC had the chance of not having those 50 humpbacks taken, in exchange for accepting no change in the numbers of whales killed in the western north pacific. Those in Australia who claim to be concerned about the impact on the commercial whale watching industry of the 50 humpbacks being taken in the Antarctic feeding waters during the summer would have had nothing to (purportedly) worry about.

But the compromise package was rejected anyway - so instead of having the status quo, but with some of Japan's hunt in the western north pacific opened up to IWC regulations, the majority at the IWC opted for nothing, and Japan will go ahead with it's expanded JARPA II program anyway.

Thus the concerns voiced regarding humpbacks seem to be exposed as hollow and empty. It is not so much about the whales as it is ensuring the issue is dragged out for as long as possible. The "moratorium", completely useless as it is, is still for some nations more important to preserve than the whales it was hoped to protect.

How much more meaningless does the "moratorium" need to become before people start to rethink things? Why don't Australia and New Zealand re-assess their goals at the IWC? Rather than trying to ban people all over the world from catching whales (showing no consideration at all for the many people this negatively affects), they might simply try to get consensus agreement to not hunt whales in the so-called "Southern Ocean Sanctuary". I suspect such an agreement might be possible (say provisionally for 10 years anyway), but they'd have to be prepared to have a little friendly respect for their peers in places like the western North Pacific, and the central and eastern North Atlantic, who are not unreasonable to hope to exploit at least those resources found geographically close to their shores (indeed, they already do, anyway, so it's the easiest of compromises to swallow).

This is the way I see it (It should be noted that Australian representatives seem to see things differently - or at least, only from their own perspective).

We don't live in such a simple world though. Politically, it seems evident that there are some (the types you wouldn't be able to have a friendly difference of opinion with) who will never accept any kind compromise, or any level of respect for that which they are have aimed their cross hairs towards. This fringe minority is politically important, and with nothing to balance it in the constituencies of some states, their leaders will never have reason to compromise in a reasonable fashion, but reason not to.

But we can be optimistic. The Internet is helping make the world smaller and smaller. The great dynamic I enjoy with people I have the pleasure of knowing is eventually certain to pervade through into international society as well.



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