Monday, January 30, 2006

OK, don't eat it then!

Following on from this story, and the ongoing fuss over Japanese "research" whaling, I was amused by the wording in this story in the Japan Times.
Japan's inventory of whale meat, a byproduct of research whaling, has doubled in the past decade
(my italics). It goes on to say:
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.
The annual catch is about 2,000 tonnes so this implies that about half the total take has remained uneaten in recent years. Given that IWC rules insist that the "byproduct of research whaling" has to be eaten, this could turn out to be an embarassing quandary for Japan. If they try to push the consumption of whale meat, this will surely result in a lot of criticism both at home and abroad. They've tried putting it in school lunches in the past, which seems particularly crass. If they just build up the stockpile indefinitely, then that will surely look like a blatant breach of IWC rules (not that I know of any hard limit to the allowable size). But otherwise, they will have to scale back the hunt scientific research, perhaps eventually to nothing. There may be too much pride and pork (of the fiscal variety) at stake to allow that to happen, though.

As I said before, whale meat simply isn't a visible product outside a few small areas of Japan. It amounts to something on the order of 0.1% of the total meat and fish consumed here.

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