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Japan Kills More Whales Than It Can Eat

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Lil Pun, Feb 10, 2006.

  1. Lil Pun

    Lil Pun Contributing Member

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    Whale Meat Glut a Problem for Japan

    TOKYO - Japan has enticed children with whale burger school lunches, sung the praises of the red meat in colorful pamphlets, and declared whale hunting "a national heritage."

    But Tokyo has a dilemma: by rapidly expanding its whale hunt, Japan now kills more of the giant mammals than its consumers care to eat.

    The result is an unprecedented glut of whale meat. Prices — once about $15 a pound — are plunging, inventories are bursting, and promoters are scrambling to get Japanese to eat more whale.

    It's a tough sell.

    "To put it simply, whale meat tastes horrible," said 30-year-old Kosuke Nakamura, one of the diners at a Hana No Mai restaurant in Tokyo who turned their noses up at whale meat.

    Young people are put off by the tough, pungent meat, Nakamura said, while older Japanese are reminded of the lean years after the country's defeat in World War II.

    And while few Japanese voice environmental concerns over hunting whales, some younger people say it has brought the country unfavorable publicity.

    "Whaling's so bad for Japan's image. I don't know why we still hunt," Nakamura said.

    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.

    In the same period, the average price of whale fell almost 30 percent, to just over $10 a pound in 2004. That's more than the average price for beef — about $9 a pound — and far higher than for chicken or pork.

    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.

    Tokyo says its program is needed to establish reliable information on whale populations and habits — data Japan says can only be gleaned by killing the animals.

    The government, which distributes the meat and uses profits to fund research, is working to promote whale meat and secure new distribution channels.

    "Is it OK to eat whale meat? Of course it is," reads a pamphlet titled "Delicious Whales" that is distributed by the government-affiliated Japan Whaling Association.

    "Even if we capture 2,000 whales a year for 100 years, it's OK because whale numbers are growing," the pamphlet says.

    The association acknowledges whale is a hard sell. The meat was considered a rich source of protein in the lean years after World War II, but people moved on to other meats — notably beef — as they became more affluent.

    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.

    Still, Hana No Mai will keep selling whale meat. And a trader at one of Tsukiji market's biggest wholesalers, Daito Gyorui Co., was equally optimistic.

    "The fall in prices is a good thing because it will make whale meat more accessible," Yoshiaki Kochi said. "Japanese will never forget the taste of whale. It's part of our culture. It's in our DNA."
     
  2. nyquil82

    nyquil82 Contributing Member

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    I swear i've seen this exact same article two years ago.
     
  3. pirc1

    pirc1 Contributing Member

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    why cann't they catch fishes like regular fishing fleets?
     
  4. Stickfigure

    Stickfigure Member

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    I love this line:

    "Is it OK to eat whale meat? Of course it is," reads a pamphlet titled "Delicious Whales"" ...


    I think I may need to adopt that as my sig ... ;)
     
  5. Lil Pun

    Lil Pun Contributing Member

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    I didn't even notice that. LOL. Has anybody on this board ever tried whae meat? Why do people eat it if it is tough and pungent? Doesn't sound very appealing to me.
     
  6. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

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    The government probably subsidizes the industry even when market prices and demand are plummeting.

    If the old guard sees the program as something to bolster national identity, then its goal is something different than money.

    Much like our farmers who pump out crops far exceeding demand because of remnants of New Deal policy and its lobbyists who keep it alive.
     
  7. Aceshigh7

    Aceshigh7 Contributing Member

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    Wow, what a farce. When Japanese whale hunting was re-allowed a few years ago, it was supposed to be on a limited basis with strict limits.

    Now they are killing so many they can't even use all of it. Someone screwed up somewhere.
     
  8. hnjjz

    hnjjz Member

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    Didn't they claim the only whales they kill was for the purpose of scientific studies?
     
  9. droxford

    droxford Member

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    What they should do is.... get some high-end chefs to find ways of making the meat tasty.

    I mean, with beef, skirt steak is one of the worst cuts of beef you can get. But a smart man once figured out that he could marinate it and get some tender, tasty fajitas.

    Japan should do something equivalent with whale meat. That way, they could increase the demand for their surplus of whale meat. Result: product sales increase and consumer gets cost-efficient tasty meat.

    Problem solved.
     
  10. mc mark

    mc mark Contributing Member

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    I was knid of thinking the same thing. Surely there are some poor people out there that would love some kind of low cost food supply.
     
  11. bnb

    bnb Contributing Member

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    Cool.

    And then they can lobby to increase the whale hunt.

    Again.
     
  12. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

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    Whales are our enemy, do you even know how much phytoplankton those things eat? And Phytoplankton is what is making the air you breath so if you wan to to breath you should kill more whales.
     
  13. Lil Pun

    Lil Pun Contributing Member

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    I assume that is a joke but I thought most of the air we breathe comes from the Amazon and other forests around the globe.
     
  14. bnb

    bnb Contributing Member

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    Dubious doesn't joke.

    He just likes whale fajitas.
     
  15. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

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    The world is 2/3 water
     
  16. Lil Pun

    Lil Pun Contributing Member

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    So what?
     
  17. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

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    Actually it's about 50% Terrestial 50% Littoral. But those fuggin whales are eatin the ocean's half. When we finish cutting down the rain forest, well, we will have to kill all the whales.
     
  18. Buck Turgidson

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    As far as I know, the types of whales they're hunting are not considered endangered or threatened. I could be wrong.

    I'm more concerned about Japan's fishing practices (longlining, massive bycatch waste, ignoring international regulations, etc...) and the general Asian (esp. Chinese) desire for animal parts for "medicinal" purposes (bear, shark, elephant, tiger, snake, etc...) - there's a huge market for illegally poached animals in Asia.
     
  19. wnes

    wnes Contributing Member

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    Bear paw is considered a delicacy in Northern china. I had been longing for a taste of that dish until I learned the cruel way of "harvesting" the paw from bear. I think I am done with that desire for good. I think, but not sure, the pratice, hence the dish, is *officially* banned in China due to the scarcity of the bears and animal rights concern.

    Shark meat, if properly prepared, can be pretty good. There are a couple of local supermarkets here selling sharks. But the Asians are really looking for shark fin. Shark fin soup is another delicacy. Many seafood resturaunts in Shanghai, for instance, serve that dish, which is very expensive even by American standard.

    Elephant? Hmm, aside from the tusk, not sure how else it can be made use of. Chopsticks made of elephant tusk used to be a luxury household item owned by wealthy Chinese. But I think its sale is also banned in China since elephants are endangered species.

    Tiger bone in Chinese red wine is said to cure many diseases. There are other tiger parts based "products" as well. Because tigers have become a *critically* endangered species, I heard PRC is banning all tiger related medicines - even the word "tiger" has to be taken off from the product name.

    Snakes are not endangered. There are several tasty dishes of snake, e.g. the soup. Snake gall is said to make one's eyes brighter. After the snake is disected, the gall and blood are instantly consumed, uncook, along with some Chinese wine. Believe it or not, yours truly had it once several years ago in Shanghai.
     
    #19 wnes, Feb 10, 2006
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2006
  20. Master Baiter

    Master Baiter Contributing Member

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    One of the problems that was listed in the article was that even though there is a surplus, its still at $10 a pound which is higher than beef, chicken, and pork.
     

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