Results of Japan's scientific whale research.
The results of the Japanese government's whale research
programme is spreading throughout Japan. The resulting research
will be on display in restaurants, in markets, in schools and sushi
bars. People can sample the research for themselves. You could try
whale sashimi, whale miso soup, salted whale blubber, fried whale
or would you like some whale ginger with tartar sauce?
The more than 2000 tonnes of whale meat that has been released
for sale is the result of the Japanese expedition to the Southern
ocean between November and April this year. The Japanese whaling
fleet caught 440 Minke whales in the Southern ocean under their
"scientific" whaling program. But it is obvious from this week's
sale, the results aren't very scientific.
The sale is expected to bring in about 3.8 billion Yen, or US$32
million, to fund further "research". And this is after the
government has cut prices for the whale meat and blubber.
One kilogram of red whale meat will sell for US$22 and blubber
will sell for US$9 a kilogram. That is 12 percent less than last
Most of the meat will go to wholesalers, which will then be sold
to markets and restaurants around the country. But the government
is also setting aside 270 tonnes for use in school cafeterias.
"We want children to learn what the flavour of whale is like,"
said Takumi Ikeshima, a spokesman from the government-sponsored
Institute for Cetacean Research in Tokyo. "If they don't eat it
young, they won't understand how good it is."
This is a final attempt to revive a dying industry in Japan.
Whale meat was an important source of protein after the war and a
staple of school lunches in Japan until commercial whaling was
banned by the International Whaling Committee in 1986. Now whale
meat and blubber are expensive delicacies that rarely appear on
family dinner tables.
Since beginning its 'scientific' whaling, the Japanese
government has gradually increased the extent of its operations,
both by increasing its self-allocated quotas and expanding its
whaling operations into new areas, including a second 'scientific'
hunt in the North Pacific ocean.
The Japanese whaling fleet is currently hunting Minke, Sperm,
Bryde's and endangered Sei whales in the North Pacific ocean. The
results of this research will also end up on the market in
While the Japanese government struggles to convince Japanese
people to start eating whale again as part of their cultural
heritage, the government's appetite for whale products continues to
This past week Japanese officials visited Norway to meet with
the government and private sector to set up a regular export route
between the two countries, despite an international ban on the
trade of whale products.
Norway has a growing stockpile of whale meat and blubber in
storage and it looking to off load it on Japan. Last month Norway
defied the export ban shipping eight tonnes of Minke whale meat and
blubber to neighbouring Iceland.
But the Norwegian exports to Japan are on hold for the moment.
Testing of the Norwegian's whale blubber by the Japanese revealed
that the blubber contains concentrations of PCBs higher than that
permitted by the Japanese health authorities.
In the meantime, Japan and Norway are working tirelessly to lift
the ban on commercial whaling and will again attempt to lift the
ban on exports of whale products at the international meeting for
the Conventional of Trade in Endangered Species in November.
You can help stop whaling by downloading the whales action kit.