Whale meat inventory up amid sluggish consumption January 30, 2006 12:28 PM
Whale meat inventory up amid sluggish consumption
Japan's inventory of whale meat, a byproduct of research whaling, has doubled in the past decade, it was learned Saturday.
According to a report compiled by a group led by freelance journalist Junko Sakuma, which accessed agricultural ministry data and other sources to check the inventory, the research whaling program has expanded while consumption of whale meat has been relatively sluggish.
Because the government has already widened the program for this whaling season, the stockpile is likely to get bigger.
Such a gap in supply and demand will likely invite even more criticism from antiwhaling groups.
According to the report, the inventory was about 1,000 to 2,500 tons around 1995. It hit a low point of 673 tons in March 1998 but began to increase to reach 4,800 tons last August.
Research whaling is permitted under the rules of the International Whaling Commission, but Australia and other countries say Japan is conducting commercial whaling in disguise.
Critics also claim Japan uses this as an excuse to continue hunting.
The whaling is conducted by the Institute of Cetacean Research with the government's approval.
The meat of whales caught by research ships is sold on the Japanese market by the institute, with total sales coming to about 6.5 billion yen a year, according to the Fisheries Agency.
Those sales, along with government funds, pay for the whaling.
The Fisheries Agency admits the whale meat inventory is rising and has begun studying ways to expand sales in Japan.
"It is true that such a trend exists. We will study ways to expand sales channels as well as to reform sales methods," an agency official said.
Such moves by the government to stimulate the whale meat market will probably draw more criticism from antiwhaling groups that fear more consumption in Japan.
Since 2000, the research whaling has been expanding in terms of volume and number of species. On the other hand, consumption has not increased as areas of high demand for whale meat are limited in Japan.
"Unless the consumption of whale meat increases dramatically, the stockpile of whale meat will surge," Sakuma said.
Earlier this month, 17 countries, including Britain and Brazil, filed a request demanding Japan to stop the research whaling program.
The protest was handed to the Foreign Ministry as well as the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, and it calls on Japan to "cease all its lethal scientific research on whales."
The Japan Times: Jan. 29, 2006
Thank you very much for your attention, love from Annie
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Ugh January 30, 2006 4:29 PM
I'm so glad whole countries are protesting this. Thanks so much, Annie!
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