A brief analysis of Japanese Cetacean killing
and the people affected by the moratorium against Whaling.


A report prepared by the Cetacean Studies Institute and submitted to the Global Whale Alliance prior to the International Whaling Commission meetings in London, 2001.


According to the web site of the Japanese Small-Type Whaling Association (JSTWA)
(http://homepage2.nifty.com/jstwa/jstiwc_e.html) the moratorium on Whaling has had a deep impact
on the culture, economics, religion and health of people who depend on the Japanese Whaling industry.

The JSTWA web site provides a full description of the industry and its history. To the casual reader, this information amounts to a well-reasoned and compassionate appeal for the return of legal Whaling.

However, on close examination, there are contained in the words of their own description adequate grounds for continuing the moratorium and a refusal to adopt the Revised Management Schedule, which is widely acknowledged as the first step toward the return of global commercial Whaling.


According to the Japanese Small-Type Whaling Association, the pursuit of large Whales is not in question, since there are no longer ships built for this purpose. (This is an area that must be considered as both unclear and unlikely to remain as a proper deterrent. One day an investor is likely to come forward and be willing to build a factory ship if it is made legal to return to Whaling.)

Whaling licenses in Japan fell from a high of 83 licenses in 1947 to the current level of 9 licenses, reached in 1970.

To quote directly from the JSTWA site,

"... When - because of the IWC moratorium - minke whaling was suspended in 1987, the Japanese small-type whaling operation involved 63 whalers working on nine boats....
The total workforce engaged in Japanese small-type whaling was about 100 *people in 1987, of which 75 were full-time employees
."
(emphasis added)

(*Note-This number is misleading due to the fact that half the nine boats do not kill Minke Whales, the only protected species under discussion.)

The impact on these 100 people is described in some detail. Much of the difficulty faced by these people is described as financial and social, since their standing in their community has deteriorated.

The Whaling referred to, with the 100 people affected, is divided between four villages. The villages are Ayukawa, Taiji, and Wada (all on Honshu) and Abashiri (on Hokkaido).

Please note:

"...The whale-based diet in Abashiri and Ayukawa is based principally on minke whale; that of Wada on Baird's beaked whale; and of Taiji, on pilot whales and dolphins...."

Since it is only the Minke Whale that is under consideration for removal from protection, we are concerned with the impact on Abashiri and Ayukawa.
Without more accurate information, we can consider the average of 25 people affected per village to be correct. In that case, we are talking about approximately 50 people whose lives are affected negatively by the moratorium so strongly desired by the rest of the world.

Perhaps 5 of the licenses existing are for Minke Whaling, which means 5 boat owners at most. These men pay their employees, who have become like family to them, either full or partial wages year around, to help them be available for the next year. The implication is that some of these people would leave for other work, more profitable work, if not paid to remain available.

Perhaps we are really talking about less than 50 people affected. Maybe the real number is more like 30, since the workforce is described as being

"... 63 whalers working on nine boats.
In addition, on shore, the vessels might have several full-time flensers, with variable numbers of volunteers (often retired whalers or locals who enjoyed occasional work). As well, there were a few additional workers, usually women, who packed edible whale products in boxes. There were also one or two office workers associated with each small-type whaling operation."

Adding this up, we see 32 Minke Whalers and 10 flensers. The remainder are part time, unskilled labor or volunteers. This totals about 42 people who are the crew members likely to want year round income. It seems a reasonable guess to imagine that 12 of these might be able to find other work, and in fact do so, since they must be paid to remain available.

30 people are the focus of the Japanese demands to return to Whaling.


(There is some confusion that arises with a careful reading of the JSTWA information. It may be that the web site inadvertently reveals an ongoing program of illegal Whaling when it refers to the continual payments to laid-off workers. It strains credibility to imagine that the first mates and deck hands have been being paid for 14 years since the Moratorium took affect...)

If these 30 people are empowered to return to commercial Whaling, there is every reason to believe that investors will appear quickly, ready to jump into the lucrative Whale meat market, building ships and going after the Minke Whales in greater numbers. There will be little to stop them.

Other Whales will follow, as pirate opportunities will increase dramatically, enabling ships at sea to take Whales of any description, reporting them as Minke Whales. Dismembered, the meat is indistinguishable without DNA testing (which has been vigorously denounced by both the Japanese and Norwegian IWC representatives).

To alleviate the suffering of the 30 to 100 people who are affected, the JSTWA points out one of the major issues:

"...Clearly, whale as a customary food involves a variety of very positive associations in people's minds, so that contemplating a future without these foods brings worried, indeed depressing, thoughts...".

It appears obvious that a mental health regimen, as well as subsidized retraining of these dislocated people, must be put in place for their wellbeing.

It is apparent that other factors weigh heavily on the ex-Whalers as well. The JSTWA again says,

"...Members of the whaling communities also participate in Buddhist ceremonies, two of which are particularly important: first, memorial services for the souls of whales killed; and second, for the souls of whalers who, having taken life, seek forgiveness and spiritual compensation for their loss of merit for having done so."

To put this in perspective, the Buddhist religion of the villagers who engage in Whaling considers their chosen vocation to be a direct violation of the commandment to not take life. The Whalers lose merit, requiring forgiveness for what they do.

The villagers suffer either way.

Perhaps a more rational approach to income production and ritual observances can be made available to these people, with less conflict and depressing consequences. All of the surrounding villages make do without such conflict, so perhaps a solution can be found among them.

As part of the local belief system, it is said that "fish is to buy, whale is to be received". Perhaps the right to harvest Whales who have washed up on beaches and cannot be saved could be given to the villagers, as a Whale received from nature...


It is argued on the JSTWA web site that tourism is not an answer to the problems of the area where the restaurants are prevented from serving Whale meat, since:

"Encouraging tourists to visit whaling villages is another reason that commercial eating establishments must serve whale meat....Internal tourism in Japan is partly driven by the expectations that regional food specialties will be available during one's travels. For this reason, most Japanese tourists visiting a whaling village would be very disappointed if they were not able to eat local whale dishes......for some potential Japanese tourists, the possibility that whale cuisine will be unavailable, less diverse, or expensive is another deterrent. "

This argument flies in the face of the recent (August 2000) report entitled "Whale Watching 2000: Worldwide Tourism Numbers, Expenditures, and Expanding Socioeconomic Benefits", where it is reported that

"... Some of the communities transformed by whale watching – that is, having substantial economic and, in some cases, educational and scientific benefit from whale watching – include: Kaikoura, New Zealand; Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA; Tofino and Telegraph Cove, in British Columbia, Canada; Ogata and Ogasawara, Japan; Andenes, Norway; Hermanus, South Africa; Tadoussac, Québec, Canada; Friday Harbor, Washington, USA; Lahaina, Hawaii, USA; Puerto Pirámides, San Julian, and Puerto Deseado, Argentina; Hervey Bay, Byron Bay, and Monkey Mia, Australia; Dingle, Ireland; Rincón, Puerto Rico; Húsavík, Iceland; Guerrero Negro, México; among others. ."

More solutions can be found in these facts from this report:"...a number of countries have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people taking swim-with-dolphin tours (New Zealand, Australia, Japan). The lesser known smaller cetaceans can also attract seasoned whale watchers eager to see the smaller and sometimes more unusual species. "

Not only could the village of Wada possibly have a unique offering to the tourists by offering to take them to see the Bairds Beaked Whale, a rarely seen Whale, but the possibilities for Dolphin Swim business could be explored in Taiji and the other villages.

The situation for Japan is good relative to Whale watching. The Whale Watching Report states:

"Whale watching in Japan has grown much faster than the average world rate throughout the 1990s. Between 1994 and 1998, whale watching in Japan grew 16.8% per year; from 1991 to 1998, the average increase was 37.6% per year. As of 1998, some 102,785 people went whale and dolphin watching in Japan, spending an estimated nearly $33 million USD. This is nearly double the number of people who participated in 1994 (55,000). The most commonly watched cetaceans are humpback, Bryde's, minke, and sperm whales, as well as bottlenose and other dolphins ."

The attraction of tourists to ex-Whaling ports is enormous, much more so than the attraction of functioning Whaling programs. To give an idea of the economic values involved, in the United States a small area of the east coast has always been associated with the Whaling of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, New England. The single state of Massachusetts accounts for much of the tourism focused on Whaling museums, reconstructed Whale ships and Whale watching tours. To illustrate,

"... the econometric estimation of the demand relationship for whale watching which, using a discount rate of 5%, results in a figure on the order of $440 million USD as the capitalized economic value of whale watching in Massachusetts alone... "

This indicates the tremendous value of live Whales.

Economic and ecological consequences of Whale and Dolphin watching are possible for communities that change their orientation to the Cetaceans. An example from Ireland is a case in point:

"...Dolphin watching in the Shannon River estuary, with naturalist guides and sometimes scientists on board is leading to a greater awareness of the need for and advantages of protected habitat for the resident bottlenose dolphins..... This will make dolphins and dolphin watching a permanent, sustainable tourism draw and regular feature of County Clare.... A ranger for the Shannon area is now responsible for the dolphins' well being. An estimated 10 full-time and 30 part-time jobs have been created by the whale watching industry.Better monitoring of the water quality of the Shannon River Estuary has resulted from the desire to make dolphin watching there a sustainable industry with a long-term future... "

 

Nearly $33,000,000 was spent on Whale and Dolphin watching in Japan in 1998. This indicates the value of Whale watching programs in a country that almost exclusively attracts Japanese tourists, often due to the perception by much of the rest of the World that Whale watching doesn’t exist in Japan.


And of course we can rest easy in relation to one village in particular, since

"...Taiji is not only the acknowledged birthplace of Japanese whaling, it also has many natural and man-made attractions and its relative inaccessability seems not to deter visitors. As well, the local cuisine, an additional attraction for Japanese visitors, is least affected by the whaling ban, for the Taiji cuisine is based on small cetaceans not affected by IWC actions (pilot whales and dolphins). "

(*Please note: this is an ironic statement made for effect, and altho humorous in that light, is not to be taken lightly. I state this aspect of the dangers to Dolphins and the smaller Whales because there is a glaring hole in the entire enterprise of the IWC. This organization does not now, nor has it ever had, any jurisdiction over the management of the stocks of the smaller Cetaceans.

Due to this loophole, even the endangered Bairds Beaked Whales are now being hunted without any IWC interference or possibility of comment.

This points out the real need for the IWC to re-define itself, to make of itself an international body whose purpose it is to manage the stocks of all Cetaceans to insure their safety and perpetual protection, including the waters in which they swim.

This notion has been named the Cetacean Nation concept, where the Oceans are recognized as a single globe-spanning nation, with Cetaceans as the true citizens of that nation. This will afford all Cetaceans a framework of protection of their rights, both environmental, social and individual.

The IWC could and should become the ICCC (International Cetacean Conservation Commission), whose mission it is to serve as liaisons to, benefactors of, and advocates for the Cetacean Nation.)

 


Conclusion

    It appears that a clear program of education is needed, both for the affected Whalers in the four villages and for the Japanese public. The toxic presence of heavy metals, PCBs and other chemical pollutants is now at the danger level in Whale meat and blubber (see Appendix 1). With distribution of Minke Whale meat from the so-called Scientific Whaling program to school lunch programs (see Appendix 2), grave concerns exist about the nutritional time bomb being set to go off in subsequest generations.

    There are very few people directly affected by the moratorium. It appears to be less than 50 people.

    It is not acceptable to the remaining billions of Earths Human population that the Whales are being subjected to a torturous death for the direct and questionable benefit of less than 50 people in Japan.


Appendices


Appendix 1

RESEARCHER SAYS JAPANESE EATING MERCURY-CONTAMINATED MEAT

Los Angeles, Oct 30, 1999 AP - A Harvard University biologist claims Japanese consumers are eating dolphin and porpoise, marketed as whale meat.

The biologist says the meat has dangerously high levels of mercury and other toxins.

The contaminated meat is being marketed as minke whale meat, a delicacy costing $US25 per kilo in Japan, Stephen Palumbi and two associates warned in a recent letter to two Japanese ministries, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Palumbi called for public warnings and an immediate ban on sales. No immediate action will be taken, however, Japanese officials told the Times.

The letter's information ``was very much one-sided and incomplete,'' said a spokesman from Japan's Far Sea Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, who declined to be named.

``As far as we know, whale meat products on the Japanese market do not contain high levels of contaminants,' ' he said.

Commercial whaling is illegal under an international treaty, but Japan kills minke whales in the Antarctic under permits allowing limited scientific research.

Palumbi and his research team bought 130 samples of whale meat in six Japanese cities. Using DNA tests, they determined that more than half were actually from dolphin, porpoise or from endangered and illegally hunted species.

Some of the dolphin and porpoise meat contained high levels of toxins, the newspaper said. One sample contained 500 times more mercury than acceptable under Japan's health advisory limit. Mercury can caused birth defects and neurological damage and is deadly at high doses.

The findings have not been published in a scientific journal. ``I didn't feel right sitting on this information and letting the long-term scientific publication process drag on,' ' Palumbi said.

''I would have felt awful if I waited, and then heard about some mother in Japan giving birth to a baby with developmental problems because she ate dolphin.' '

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Poison saves hunted whales

Source: The Independent - London

Publication date: Jan 09, 2000

THE WHALE may finally be saved from hunters - through being poisoned.

Contamination from the pollution of the world's seas appears to be succeeding where environmentalists had failed. The people of Japan, the world's main whaling nation, are at last questioning the hunting of the leviathans after a major food scare. After high levels of dangerous heavy metals and chemicals were found in whalemeat, Japanese scientists advised against eating it, so sales slumped.

Now, Japanese retailers - including one 300-branch supermarket chain -have started removing all whalemeat from their shelves after the scientists recommended an "immediate ban on the sale of all contaminated products".

Research has shown that toxic chemicals can build up in whales and dolphins to 70,000 times the levels found in the waters in which they swim and feed, and can cause serious human health problems, including damage to the immune system, sterility, and "gender bender" hormone disruptions.

The development has is an extraordinary twist to one of the oldest and most bitter environmental battles. Conservationists have been campaigning to stop whaling for more than 30 years, after unrestrained hunting brought many species, such as blue fin and humpback, to the verge of extinction.

Nearly 20 years ago, the environmentalists succeeded - in one of their first great international victories - in persuading the body that regulates world whaling, the International Whaling Commission, to impose an indefinite moratorium.

But, ever since, Japan has exploited a loophole, which allows whaling for "scientific purposes", to enable it to continue its annual hunt and provide whalemeat for its people.

Meanwhile, it has been gradually winning the argument for a resumption of commercial whaling as the species it hunts - the minke whale - is abundant and would be in no danger of being seriously depleted. It has also used financial aid to persuade developing countries to join the whaling commission and support it.

The discovery of the contamination of whalemeat, however, threatens to undermine its campaign. Last year, two Japanese toxicologists and two geneticists from Harvard University analysed more than 100 samples of the meat bought in restaurants, shops and markets across Japan - in a study co-ordinated by the British-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and the Swiss Coalition for the Protection of Whales.

They were astonished at the results. About half of all the samples proved to be contaminated with heavy metals or dangerous chemicals - including mercury, dioxins, DDT and PCBs - above the maximum levels allowed for human consumption under Japanese and international standards. They also found that a quarter of the samples were sold under false pretences, in fact containing meat from other species such as dolphins and porpoises - and, in one case in 20, from fully protected species such as humpback and sperm whales. More than three quarters of these mis-advertised products proved to be for human consumption.

Japan's Fisheries Agency insisted then that whalemeat sold to consumers was not seriously contaminated. But in November, a separate study by the country's official Environment Agency confirmed that whales and dolphins were highly polluted.

Further research suggested, in the words of one scientist, that eating just three ounces of dolphin meat or one ounce of liver "would cause significant health problems".

Meanwhile, a seven-year study of children in the Faroe Islands has found that those whose mothers had eaten contaminated whalemeat during pregnancy were much more likely to suffer brain and heart damage. A coalition of citizens' groups was formed last month to press the Japanese government to take immediate action. The fishing industry is deeply worried that the outrage will cause more cancellations of orders and drive down the price of meat from the whales caught by "scientific" whaling, dealing a devastating blow to the industry.

Appendix 2

Japanese Whalemeat Sale.

On Oct. 23, 1997, the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research announced that 298 tons of meat taken from 100 minke whales killed in the northwestern Pacific Ocean during May July 1997 would be placed on the domestic market on Oct. 24, 1997; 31 tons for school lunches, 156 tons for canning, and 111 tons for direct markets. The wholesale price was set at 49,000 yen per 15 kilogram block of meat. [Dow Jones News] (emphasis added)

 


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