A recent survey in Japan of approximately 29,000 public elementary and junior high schools found 5,355 of them had served whale meat to students in their lunches. The whale meat had been served at least once from some time in 2009 up to March of 2010. The survey was conducted from June to August of 2010.
The practice of whaling has been defended by some Japanese as necessary for research, but critics say the whale meat is actually intended for human consumption, and that the whaling has no scientific value.
Japan Times reported that the Japanese government’s Institute of Cetacean Research, which conducts whaling, has been selling whale meat for school lunches. Apparently they sold whale meat far below market value to schools to promote it to school children. Japan Times says they have 4,000 tons of it in freezers. That’s 8,000,000 pounds. Are the children they want to give whale meat to, conducting experiments with it before they eat it? It seems a very odd lesson to teach them; that ocean research means getting food on the table. Some whale scientists in other countries are able to conduct their research without killing and eating them in large numbers.
On the Institute’s website, a fair number of news posts are about “attacks” on their ships by activists, and other “foolhardy” actions by whale defenders. They use the word “terrorism” to describe the defense of whales. Most of their news posts aren’t about whale research. One of the research posts claims that whaling was actually good for the Antarctic Minke Whale population, but the authors of the study note the killing of two million whales by the whaling industry did not generate a deliberate, strategic benefit for Minkes: “[S]uggesting that managing Antarctic ecosystems under the assumption that Antarctic minke whales are unusually abundant is not warranted.” (Source: Molecular Ecology) Perhaps they believed they could write a misleading news title and that no one would bother to check up on the truth of what the real researchers wrote.
Adding to the peculiar and sad practice of whale hunting there, is the fact it is paid for by Japanese tax payers. In January, the New Yorker reported since 1988 the Japanese government has paid about 150 million dollars to keep the whale hunting going. A Greenpeace official in Japan said, “It is obvious that (Japan) continues whaling despite there being little demand.” (Source: Japan Times)
Image Credit: Stefan Powell