From the amount of money and effort the Government of Japan spends on trying to expand their whaling industry and resume commercial whaling you'd think there was an incredibly high demand for whale meat in Japan wouldn't you? However from this graph, created using information from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan, it's clear that they don't have a high demand since more and more whale meat is getting stockpiled.

whalemeatstockpileGraph.gif© Greenpeace

The Japanese Fisheries Agency claims that their current whaling is purely for scientific reasons but many IWC scientists claim that this "research" isn't useful. At the IWC meeting in 2005, a paper signed by 63 scientists representing 16 out of 30 national delegations contested the scientific claims of the Japanese proposal (1).

Some people have been led to believe that whales must be culled to improve fish stocks however, scientific research shows that there is no cause to blame them for the collapse of the fisheries since most of the world's whales primarily eat krill rather than fish (2). The sizes of many whale populations today are at a small fraction of their levels in pre-whaling times when commercial fish populations were considerably larger and much healthier than they are today (3). The primary predators of fish are other fish, not whales(4).

There doesn't appear to be any logical explanation why the Japanese government supports whaling on the high seas and since the majority of the Japanese public are also against it - isn't it about time they stopped?

1) Gales et al. 2005. Japan’s whaling plan under scrutiny, Nature, 435;16

2) Nemoto 1970. Feeding patterns of baleen whales in the ocean. In: Steele J, editor. Marine food chains. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press; 1970. p. 241–52

3) Pauly & Palomares 2005. Fishing down marine food web: it is far more pervasive than we thought. Bulletin of Marine Science.76:197–211

4) Trites et al. 1997. Competition between fisheries and marine mammals for prey and primary production in the Pacific Ocean. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Science.22:173–87