The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice: A bloody & bleeding Japanese whaling industry.

Japanese whaling industry ‘dead in the water’, says animal welfare group

Charity says industry struggling to survive despite government bailout and calls for resources to be diverted to whale-watching

Whale meat sashimi is served with fresh ginger at a hotel in Taiji, Japan

Whale meat sashimi is served with fresh ginger at a hotel in Taiji, Japan. The consumption of whale meat has declined in recent years. Photograph: Robert Gilhooly

Japan‘s whaling industry is “dead in the water” and cannot survive without huge taxpayer subsidies, according to a study.

The report, to be published on Tuesday by the charity International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw), draws on Japanese government data for the first time to build a case against the use of millions of dollars in public subsidies to prop up the industry amid a dramatic decline in consumption of whale meat.

Last year those subsidies included ¥2.28bn (£15.6m) siphoned off from the budget for reconstructing the region devastated by the March 2011 tsunami.

The report, seen by the Guardian, calls on the government to divert resources to Japan’s fledgling whale-watching industry as a “pro-economy, pro-whale” alternative to its annual “research” hunts in the Antarctic. “Whaling is an unprofitable business that can survive only with substantial subsidies and one that caters to an increasingly shrinking and ageing market,” the report says.

Annual subsidies, channelled through the Institute for Cetacean Research, average about ¥782m (£5.3m), it said, adding that the government spent at least ¥30bn (£205m) on whaling between 1987 and last year.

Japanese whaling fleet's mother ship, the Nisshin Maru, seen from Sea Shepherd vessel the Bob BarkerA Japanese whaling fleet’s mothership, the Nisshin Maru, seen from Sea Shepherd vessel the Bob Barker. Photograph: Sam Sielen/AFP/Getty ImagesIn addition, part of a separate profitable fisheries programme is being used, in part, to fund the refitting of the whalers’ factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, which will enable the fleet to operate for at least another 10 years.

Japan refuses to abandon its whaling programme, despite years of opposition from countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Patrick Ramage, the director of Ifaw’s global whale programme, said that was due in part to the influence wielded by politicians representing coastal fishing communities with links to whaling, and bureaucrats at the fisheries agency.

“There’s also the fact that Japan doesn’t appreciate foreigners telling them what to do, and that allows them to play the cultural imperialism card,” he said.

The report says official claims that whaling is a historical and cultural necessity are “profoundly and increasingly untrue”.

Studies conducted on Ifaw’s behalf by the Japan-based E-Square and Nippon Research Centre show whale meat consumption has fallen to about 1% of its 1960s peak, when it was a vital source of protein. Current stockpiles of unsold whale meat have increased to nearly 5,000 tonnes, about four times greater than they were 15 years ago.

“With growing wealth and modernisation, the people of Japan have lost their yen for whale meat,” the report says. “Yet fisheries officials and other government figures continue to siphon off millions of taxpayer yen to prop up an industry that is effectively dead in the water.”

Prof Masayuki Komatsu, a former agriculture ministry official who teaches ocean and marine resource policy at the national graduate institute for policy studies in Tokyo, agrees that whaling in its current form is economically unsustainable. His solution, however, is to increase the annual whale catch in the Antarctic and north-west Pacific so prices drop enough to attract a new generation of consumers.

“For older Japanese, whale meat is something special that you are happy to pay a premium for,” he said. “But young people have never experienced the taste. It’s not special to them and there are plenty of other sources of protein they can turn to. Japan needs to sell whale meat at a competitive price, similar to that of pork or chicken, and to do that it needs to increase its annual catch.”

According to an Ifaw survey published late last year, 89% of Japanese people said they had not bought whale meat in the past 12 months.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, but a clause in the ban allows Japan to catch up to about 1,000 mainly minke whales in the southern ocean every winter, and to sell the meat on the open market. Komatsu believes the IWC ban should be lifted to allow Japan to catch “at least” 1,000 whales a year.

The cost of sending the fleet to the Antarctic and clashes with the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group have forced the fleet to return with a fraction of its quota of about 950 whales in recent years. Late last year, the whalers left port several weeks late and are expected to take only about 300 whales, Komatsu said.

A minke whale Japan is allowed to catch up to 1,000 mainly minke whales every winter. Photograph: Murdo MacleodAustralia, which last week demanded Japan’s whaling fleet leave its exclusive economic zone as it prepares for this winter’s slaughter, has taken its campaign to end the Antarctic whale hunts to the international court of justice in the Hague. A ruling could come this year.

“The fisheries agency is using international opposition to whaling to build domestic support,” Ramage said. “But I don’t think that argument is selling any better than all that whale meat now sitting in warehouses. Whatever judgment the court makes, it won’t change the reality that in the end, the decision on whaling is going to be made in Tokyo.”

The Ifaw report calls for the development of whale watching along Japan’s coastline, a move that, unlike the Antarctic hunts, “will turn a profit and directly benefit costal communities”.

Ramage said: “Whale watching is an economically beneficial alternative that’s taking off in Japan and deserves government support.”

Source: The Guardian


Sea Shepherd Australia Thwarts Japanese Whalers

HOBART, Tasmania, Australia, February 4, 2013 (ENS) – The month of January, usually the prime whale catching month for the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean, has come and gone without the death of a single whale, says Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Australia Director Jeff Hansen.

It is the international organization’s ninth Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Zero Tolerance. This season’s campaign is under the direction of Sea Shepherd Australia, now that founding president Paul Watson has handed authority to Hansen and former Australian Greens leader and senator Bob Brown.

Paul Watson

Paul Watson aboard the SSS Steve Irwin as an observer (Photo courtesy Sea Shepherd)

Authority was transferred in December in compliance with a U.S. court restraining order and after Watson’s escape last summer from Germany, where he was detained on bail for possible extradition to Costa Rica.

The Sea Shepherd fleet of four ships, one helicopter, drones, and more than 120 volunteer crew from around the world has to date succeeded in keeping the four-vessel Japanese fleet of “research” whalers separated on the run, making it impossible for them to catch whales, Hansen says.

As an observer, Watson remains aboard the Sea Shepherd vessel SSS Steve Irwin, named in honor of the late Australian naturalist and broadcaster.

Watson says he will “document the campaign” against Japanese whaling in Antarctic waters. The Steve Irwin is captained this season by former first officer Siddharth Chakravarty of India.

Now two interlinked battles are underway – in the courts and at sea, where ships from both sides are maneuvering to block each other.

On January 31, the Japanese whaling security ship Shonan Maru No. 2 entered the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone around Macquarie Island, chasing the Sea Shepherd ship, the SSS Bob Barker.

Japanese ship

Shonan Maru No. 2, Jan 4 2012 (Photo by Guillaume Collet courtesy Sea Shepherd)

The Bob Barker headed for World Heritage listed Macquarie Island to lose the Shonan Maru No. 2 and escaped the Japanese vessel on Friday.

Captain of the Bob Barker Peter Hammarstedt said, “The Shonan Maru No. 2 is an integral part of the Japanese whaling program. On board are armed storm troopers from the Japan Coast Guard whose sole mission is to violently prevent my crew of whale defenders, many of whom are Australian citizens, from upholding Australian domestic law and international law protecting whales.”

The Australian government officially notified the Japanese government to order the Shonan Maru No. 2 to remain outside of Australian territorial waters, including the waters around Macquarie Island.

Since 2008, the Japanese whaling fleet has been in contempt of an Australian Federal Court order that prohibits them from killing whales in Australian territorial waters. Despite the ruling, Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research announced that it intends to kill nearly 1,000 minke and 50 endangered fin whales during its 2012/2013 whale-hunting season in the Southern Ocean.

Only the Yushin Maru No. 2 remains with the factory ship Nisshin Maru and both vessels are far north of the whaling area and running from conservationist vessels.

Co-Campaign Leader Bob Brown said, “The first 24 hours of contact with the whale poachers have been a victory for Sea Shepherd and a complete loss for the Japanese whaling fleet. I am delighted to report that not a single whale has been harmed so far.”

The speedy Sea Shepherd ship Brigitte Bardot has chased the Japanese whaler Yushin Maru No. 3 some 300 miles to the south.


Sea Shepherd crew aboard the Steve Irwin throw bottles of rotten butter at Japanese harpoon vessel, Yushin Maru No. 3 while whalers fire back with water cannon, February. 6, 2009 in Antarctica’s Ross Sea. (Photo by Adam Lau courtesy Sea Shepherd)

Today, a lawyer for the whalers is threatening the Sea Shepherd with contempt of court action, claiming the Brigitte Bardot breached the order granted by a U.S. appeals court that restrains Sea Shepherd vessels from approaching within 500 yards of Japanese whalers.

The December 17, 2012 injunction issued in Seattle, Washington by U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals states, “Defendants Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Paul Watson, and any party acting in concert with them, are enjoined from physically attacking any vessel engaged by Plaintiffs the Institute of Cetacean Research, Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha, Ltd., Tomoyuki Ogawa or Toshiyuki Miura in the Southern Ocean or any person on any such vessel, or from navigating in a manner that is likely to endanger the safe navigation of any such vessel.”

Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha operates the whaling fleet for the Institute of Cetacean Research, a government agency, while Ogawa and Miura are believed to be senior officers.

The injunction responds to an appeal by the Institute for Cetacean Research against the decision of a U.S. District Court judge, who refused to grant an injunction.

The injunction will remain in place until the court decides on the merits of the Japanese case opposing Sea Shepherd in Washington State, where the U.S. chapter of the group is based.

The whalers’ lawyer claims that, in violation of the injunction, the SSS Brigitte Bardot came within 20.25 yards of the Yushin Maru No. 3 on January 29.

Brown, Hansen

Sea Shepherd Australia’s new leadership, Bob Brown, left, and James Hansen (Photo courtesy Sea Shepherd)

Today “The Age” reports that the group’s Melbourne lawyer takes the position that Sea Shepherd Australia is responsible for the group’s Antarctic campaign and the Australian chapter is not subject to the restraining order of the U.S. court.

The U.S. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has no shares in, nor control over, the Australian chapter, which is now run by Australians – Hansen and Bob Brown, the former senator and leader of the Australian Greens.

Watson was arrested in Germany last May on a 10-year-old Costa Rican warrant, issued after a Sea Shepherd vessel he commanded intercepted a Costa Rican shark-finning vessel and was escorting it to a Costa Rican port. The Guatemalan government sent a gunboat to force release of the shark fishing vessel, while Costa Rica charged Watson with attempted murder. Costa Rica has since banned shark finning.

Watson jumped bail and left Germany on July 22, 2012, saying that the Costa Rican warrant was a maneuver intended to deliver him to Japan.

At the request of Costa Rica, Interpol has issued a Red Notice asking for information about the whereabouts of the 62-year-old who holds dual citizenship in the United States and Canada.

Brown has been a conservationist for decades, both before and during the time he represented the state of Tasmania in Parliament.

“I am honored to serve the great whales of the Southern Ocean and Sea Shepherd in this way,” Brown said. “My admiration for Paul Watson is inversely proportional to the Japanese government’s anger at Sea Shepherd’s success at preventing the slaughter of almost 4,000 whales in recent years.”

The Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet’s Emmy-nominated show “Whale Wars” has documented the Sea Shepherd’s whale defense campaigns for the past five years and is also onboard this season.

Source: Environment News Service

Japan Whaling On Choppy Seas

Japan’s increasingly beleaguered whaling industry has taken lumps from inside and outside the country in recent day. Australia is demanding Tokyo withdraw its “research whaling” fleet from the Southern Ocean, and a new report based on Japanese government data shows that whaling remains afloat only because of massive taxpayer subsidies.

Australia’s call came following revelations that a support vessel for Japan’s whaling fleet, theShonan Maru No.2, had entered the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone around Australia’s subantarctic Macquarie Island en route to the whaling grounds.

 Japan Misspent Tsunami Rebuilding Money

(Australia also claims the Antarctic waters in which the whaling fleet is operating; it is one of seven nations to claim Antarctic territory, although these claims have been effectively “frozen” – neither recognized nor disputed – by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959.)

“Australia has made it clear to Japan on a number of occasions that vessels associated with its whaling program are not welcome,” the country’s environment minister Tony Burke said in a statement. “Our embassy in Tokyo has conveyed these sentiments directly to the Japanese government.”

Australia has taken its protest against Japan’s whaling to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, arguing that Tokyo’s claims to be hunting whales for scientific research “can not be justified” under the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, the convention on which the International Whaling Commission is based. New Zealand has subsequently joined that case, which is expected to be heard in June or July.

Japanese officials frequently defend their country’s whaling by arguing that it is traditional activity that provides much-needed and much-desired meat for its people – claims that have been found wanting by a new report, which uses Japanese government data to show that whale meat is far from popular and that left to its own devices, the whaling industry would collapse.

The report, called The Economics of Japanese Whaling and published by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), was released at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday. (Full disclosure – the report was partly written by the author of this blog.) It compiled information collected on its behalf by Japanese companies including E-Square and the Nippon Research Center to demonstrate, among other things, that:

  • Whale meat consumption in Japan is now a mere 1 percent of its peak in the 1960s
  • Current stockpiles of unsold whale meat have increased to nearly 5,000 tonnes and are more than four times greater what they were 15 years ago
  • A majority of Japanese are indifferent to whaling; and 89 percent say they have not bought any whale meat in the past 12 months
  • The whaling industry is able to survive only because of massive government taxpayer subsidies. Annual government subsidies for Japanese whaling average around 782 million yen (US $9.78m), but in 2011 increased by around 2.28 billion yen (US $28.55m).
  • That 2011 subsidy increase came from the diversion of earthquake reconstruction funds that had been earmarked for tsunami relief.

IFAW argues that a more productive and potentially profitable whale-based industry meriting Japanese government support is whale watching, which is growing in popularity in that country’s waters and in 2008 generated approximately $22 million in income.

“The good people of Japan are paying billions to support a dying industry,” said IFAW Whale Program Director Patrick Ramage. “If their government wants to generate income and help coastal communities, it should support whale watching. Whaling is an economic loser in the 21st century.”

Source:Beta News


Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras

Editorial Committee

David Dunham

Arno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

Pieter Jan Brouwer

Assistant: Emilia Romero

The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 



~ by FSVSF Admin on 8 February, 2013.

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