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ARTICLE: Japanese whalers bring home haul amid protests


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Taken from the Environmental News Network:

Japanese whalers bring home haul amid protests

Wednesday, April 11, 2001
By Midoriko Morita

The Nisshin-maru, loaded with 2,000 tons of whale carcasses, glided through the early morning fog and into port on Wednesday as it returned to Japan from a fruitful, if controversial, five months at sea.
The 7,500 ton mothership heads a fleet of five whaling and research ships at the center of international protests against its Japan Antarctic Research Program (JARPA).

As the vessel's crew of 115 packed their harpoons away for the next season, officials in Ishinomaki, an ancient whaling port 200 km (120 miles) north of Tokyo, began to assess their catch of 440 minke whales and some cited the merits of whale meat when compared to beef.

"This is the maximum amount we can catch in the Antarctic region but it will provide valuable samples for our research," Minoru Morimoto, Japan's representative to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), told Reuters aboard the Nisshin-maru.

This number, while within the level the IWC has deemed as sustainable culling, has whipped up a storm of protest from environmentalists around the world, including Greenpeace and even the U.S. government.

"This is not scientific research but commercial whaling," said Motoji Nagasawa of Greenpeace, which turned out to protest the ship's return. "We want the Japanese government to stop this program."

Greenpeace estimates that Wednesday's haul will earn 4.1 billion yen ($33 million) on the wholesale market.

A hunt last year saw Japan catch about 90 Bryde's and sperm whales. That hunt brought the threat of U.S. sanctions and a move by then-President Bill Clinton to possibly deny Japan future access to fishing rights in U.S. waters.

The Japanese government, which provides the whalers with the vessels, equipment and crew, insists the whales are caught mostly for research purposes, even if some do end up on supermarket shelves or restaurant menus.

"The scientific research program may have its political and diplomatic problems but its most important aspect remains that it is scientific," Morimoto said.

However, researchers were swift to cite the advantages of whale meat for the table 窶 especially in light of the foot and mouth crisis sweeping Europe.

"There is little difference in taste between whale meat and beef," said Seji Ohsumi, director general of Japan's Institute of Cetecean Research. "I think it would be better for all if more people around the world eat whale meat."

Asked about whale meat as an alternative to beef amid the foot and mouth and mad cow disease scares, he said: "People eat kangaroo meat. Kangaroos are cute too, aren't they?"

International conventions on whaling, he said, require that research samples not be wasted and in addition, returns from the sale of whale meat help to fund the research program.

Since its departure from the southern town of Shimonoseki last November, the JARPA fleet has also surveyed and studied 10,452 minke, blue and fin whales in the waters off the Antarctic, said Japanese researchers who accompanied the whalers.

Data gathered have provided them with a valuable insight not only into whales but into fish in the ocean's food cycle for use for future fisheries and environmental studies, they said.

At a welcoming ceremony attended by hundreds of relatives and officials, those present vowed to press Japan's case with the international community.

"We will be advocating the early resumption of sustainable whaling at the coming July meeting (of the IWC) in London," Shiro Yuge, a senior official of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries told Reuters.

IWC scientists are to meet in London to assess the impact of whaling on the cetacean population and possibly to set new rules.

Japan hopes to expand the quotas on research whaling to enable it to catch more and different species.

Japan stopped commercial whaling in compliance with an international moratorium in 1986 but began its research programme a year later to provide what it calls "necessary data to establish a viable resource management scheme for whale populations."

Whale meat was an important source of protein in Japan after World War Two, but it has become a gourmet food over the last few decades as prices rose in line with falling supply.

Copyright ツゥ ENN
NEWS: Killing whales for research OK

Taken from Kyodo News, April 26, 2001 - ouch!

Killing whales for research OK - govt

WASHINGTON 窶 Japan has explained anew its whaling policy during three days of expert-level talks with the United States in Washington, a Japanese official said Wednesday.

Minoru Morimoto, who represents the Japanese government at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), said he told the US side that Tokyo will continue its so-called "research whaling" in the northwestern Pacific.

Copyright ツゥ Kyodo News
Munchi, munchi

Here's an inteesting article by Shusaki Adachi, an international consultant.

Title: Why I want to save whales 窶 for eating.

Don't miss the subsequent discussion!
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