Monday, June 18, 2012

Do The Maths, ICR!

Is it crash-and-burn time for the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR)?
Whale meat sales in Japan are plummeting, with 75% of a 1,200 tonne 'scientific' catch failing to sell at auction! In comparision, ten years ago only 30% of wholesale whale meat was unsold.
Japanese 'research': "I calculate
17,250 steaks out of this one!"
Researchers followed auctions of the 2011 North Pacific catch, taken by the same fleet that illegally hunts whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Almost all meat sold was heavily discounted. The ICR admits the auction did not achieve the results it wanted, and the pressure must now be rising to move the other 75% by any means possible: already it's giving away 236 tonnes of whale meat to rural communities and for school lunches. This latest failure follows sharply reduced whale meat availability from the main Antarctic hunt, after pressure from Sea Shepherd.
Japan's whaling is backed by a lobby of nationalist politicians in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has spent billions of yen in a diplomatic offensive to reverse the 1986 ban on commercial whaling. The same LDP politicians are behind other rightwing causes in Japan, such as revisionist history textbooks. Without their support, there's no chance that whale hunting would be economically viable: the govt has been providing an annual subsidy for whaling activities, as meat sales alone don't cover the costs of sending Japan's eight whaling ships out of harbour. Last year the ICR was forced to rely on a $28m govt bail-out, using funds from an earthquake/tsunami mini-budget, much to the disgust of many people worldwide who'd donated to the rescue work.
One problem faced by this lobby is falling whale meat consumption. Even before 1986, when the ban on whaling began, whale eating was declining and most surveys say only about 1% of the population still eats it regularly.
With the whale meat stockpile mounting (6,000 tonnes+ @ Aug.2010, and well past that mark now), the ICR's future must be uncertain.

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