Saturday, 1 March 2014

Japanese whaling - a collapsing industry?

 Deutsche Well 26 February 2014:

"Overall, we have seen persistently low demand for whale meat over recent years, especially among young people," said Patrick Ramage, director of the Whaling Program at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). "A dwindling minority of Japanese still eat whale meat," he says.
The IFAW's latest national polling data was carried out by a research agency and released in February 2013. "The most striking aspect was the overwhelming indifference of a majority of Japanese when asked about whaling," he added.
The report, titled "The Economics of Japanese Whaling: A Collapsing Industry Burdens Taxpayers," utilized official statistics to disprove the claim that commercial whaling is a cultural and nutritional necessity to Japan.
Japan's whaling fleet, for example, is subsidized to the tune of around Y782 million (7.6 million USD) a year, yet the Institute of Cetacean Research still operates at an annual loss. At the same time, consumption of whale meat among the Japanese public today is around 1 percent of its peak, in the early 1960s, and the authorities are encouraging schools to put it on their menus to shift the stockpiles of unsold whale meat...
About 89 percent of people responding to the poll said they had not purchased whale meat in the past 12 months and 85 percent said they were opposed to billions of yen in taxpayers' money being used to prop the industry up.
There was also public anger when it was revealed that some Y2.28 billion were diverted from funds set aside to help communities struggling with the aftermath of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and instead spent on "research whaling, stabilization promotion and countermeasure expenses."
"This is demonstrably an industry in its death throes," Ramage told DW. "It fails to cover its own costs, public demand for the product is decreasing and expenses - including fuel costs, maintenance of vessels, refurbishment and so on - are on the rise."
And the international repercussions are potentially damaging as well, he said. "Whaling is a persistent irritant in Japan's bilateral and multilateral relationships vis-à-vis other governments and international forums," Ramage added. "It needlessly damages the country's international reputation and could ultimately threaten Japanese business, trade and bilateral relations."

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