I received a note from marine ecologist Walter Starck this morning. He wrote,
Here’s an interesting news item on whaling. A growing stockpile of unsold whale meat would seem to indicate that the Japanese whaling effort is driven by political rather than commercial considerations. If the situation is really as depicted (always a big “if”) it seriously undermines the whole cultural importance argument.
Walter was refering to a piece in UnderWaterTimes.com that included the comment,
Some 1,035 tons of whale meat hit the market in Japan last year, a 65 percent increase from 1995, the Fisheries Agency says. And sluggish demand means inventories have almost doubled in five years to 2,704 tons in 2004.
And all of this before the most recent expedition to the Antarctic.
The article continues,
But the glut of whale meat hasn’t stopped the harpoon guns. Tokyo plans to kill – under a research program – some 1,070 minke whales in 2006, over 400 more than last year. Japan will also hunt 10 fin whales, and a total of 160 Bryde’s, sei and sperm whales, fisheries official Kenji Masuda said.
The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, approving limited hunts for research purposes a year later. Opponents have called Japan’s hunts merely a way for it to dodge the whaling ban.
The government, which distributes the meat and uses profits to fund research, is working to promote whale meat and secure new distribution channels.
“Even if we capture 2,000 whales a year for 100 years, it’s OK because whale numbers are growing,” the pamphlet says.
Some local governments have begun offering whale meat in school lunches.
Wakayama, a prefecture with a whale-hunting tradition 280 miles southwest of Tokyo, has been aggressive in getting youngsters to eat whale, introducing whale meals at 270 public schools in 2005.
Nutritionists have even developed child-friendly whale dishes, including whale meatballs, hamburgers and whale spaghetti bolognese, said Tetsuji Sawada of Wakayama’s education board.
Chimney Co., which runs the Hana No Mai eateries, acknowledges customers are wary of new whale dishes.
So there is more whale meat from the ‘research efforts’ than the Japanese can collectively stomach.
So, according to BBC News whale meat is being turned into dog food.
The dog food is apparently promoted as “organic” and fished “freshly out of the water”.
Story updated here: http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/001190.html