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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



Fresh whale products in Kushiro

The Hokkaido Shimbun online newspaper has an article about special permit whale meat by-products lining the shops in Kushiro, with prices pretty much in line with those from last year.

Fresh meat from the minke whales caught under special permit in the waters off Kushiro is the source. The first whale was caught and landed on the 6th of September, and after biological samples such as stomach contents data were taken, around 500kg of fresh meat by-products filtered through the local market into retail shops.

One shop introduced in the article ordered in 70 kgs of product, and the chunks of red meat drew the attention of local people and tourists alike. Prices were noted as being between 380 and 500 yen per 100 grams, about the same as last year.

A 30 year staff member at the shop commented that "Kushiro's whale is much softer (than frozen whale meat products). We hope people will enjoy this taste which is only available at this time of year in Kushiro".

The special permit whaling will continue in the coast off Kushiro until mid October with a limit of 60 minke whales to be taken, the article notes.

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Iceland fin whale catches

Sounds like the whaling in Iceland is going well.

We can tell, because WDCS is "outraged" and making assertions about the economics of the situation, as is prominent Icelandic anti-whaling voice Arni Finnsson, who also claims "damage to Iceland’s international reputation is huge" (by some undescribed measure).

Assuming the reports about the catches are accurate, this will amount to a significant amount of fin whale meat imports in to Japan, which should have a noticeable impact on the whale meat inventory statistics, after the imports take place. (Indeed, some may have been imported already.)

Good luck to Iceland's whalers in their efforts.

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Update: Scrolling back through some history I see some earlier reports from August about the good progress:
1) Successful Whaling Season in Iceland
2) Whaling season in Iceland “a success”

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Another update: A New York Times blog has an related post entitled "Iceland Defends Its Hunt of 94 Fin Whales". It includes a piece from Iceland's IWC Commissioner, but in the comments section Arni Finnsson himself pops up to tell us what he thinks in some detail.

Interesting is that Finnsson appears convinced that the Japanese market for fin whale meat products is essentially satisfied as it is, and there will be no market for much of this years' Icelandic fin whale meat which he estimates through some kind of peculiar logic to be between 10 and 30 times too high in supply (if I am reading him correctly?). Regular readers of this blog who are familiar with the Japanese whale meat inventory statistics will likely see problems with his logic (as I do), and he also seems to have his facts wrong in one instance (at least), but at the end of the day time will tell whether the fin whale meat products gain export revenue for Iceland from the Japanese market or not.

I suspect that Finnsson won't be changing his anti-whaling stance even if/when the economic viability of this activity has been demonstrated, but we shall see.

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